Who is Reid Hoffman?
Reid Hoffman is a highly successful American businessman and entrepreneur. He has been involved with two of the most successful business ventures of the past twenty years: PayPal and LinkedIn. His experience in PayPal’s early days would prove to be foundational for his business success, and Reid would eventually be able to call himself a member of the famed PayPal Mafia.
In his later years, Reid would strike it rich as a venture capitalist. He would form Greylock Partners and further grow his fortune. Reid would turn his success into a successful speaking career. Reid still actively writes, speaks, and hosts a podcast.
Reid was born to Deanna Ruth and William Hoffman. He spent his youth growing up in California. During that time, Hoffman pursued typically academic and somewhat “nerdy” pursuits. This included heavy investment in role-playing, table-top games. In later interviews, Hoffman would credit the lessons he learned during his time playing board games – which included pattern and strategy – for much of his business success.
Hoffman’s education was nothing short of sterling. His High School education took place at the Putney School, a private high school in Vermont. Hoffman would continue his education into college, earning a Bachelors of Science from Stanford in Symbolic Systems and Computer Science. He would then earn a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from Wolfson College in Oxford. Hoffman was a Marshall Scholar during this time – Marshall Scholarships are only given out to the best of the best students in the country.
Various technology pursuits
Hoffman graduated from Wolfson in 1993 and went to work in the technology sector. He worked at Apple in the mid-1990s, and spent time there working on the eWorld project, a proto-social network that the company was working on during this time period. This experience unquestionably influenced his later years at LinkedIn.
Hoffman would found SocialNet.com in 1997, a website dedicated to matching people of similar interests. It also had an online dating component. While the website would not ultimately be successful, Reid would learn many lessons he termed as critical towards his eventual business success at both PayPal and LinkedIn.
During this time, Hoffman served on the board of many organizations and businesses – including PayPal.
Reid left SocialNet in 2000 to join PayPal, where he served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he served until founding LinkedIn in 2002. He would eventually become the company’s Executive Vice President, a position he held until PayPal was purchased by eBay.
In December 2002, Reed would cofound LinkedIn, the business professional social network. Taking the lessons he learned from his time at eWorld and SocialNet.com, Reed would turn the company into one of the biggest successes in the social networking world, making himself a legendary entrepreneur in the process.
LinkedIn, like many other start-ups, owes its success to venture capital investments, and many of these investments came from Reed’s former colleagues at PayPal, further cementing his presence as a member of the PayPal Mafia.
Reed owns billions in LinkedIn stock and has served the Chairman, President, and Executive Chairman of the company at various points.
Investing & Crypto
Hoffman would next become a successful venture capitalist. In 2009, he joined Greylock Partners, a venture capital fund that focused on investment in Silicon Valley firms. He has helped to turn Greylock Partners into a wildly successful fund and a must-have on a company’s investment portfolio. Reid has made major investments during his time at Greylock and helped to reap the profits of many companies, including Airbnb, Helion Energy, and more. He also runs Greylock’s $20 million discovery fund, which invests in brand new firms.
Like many other members of the PayPal Mafia, Hoffman has also invested heavily in crypto. In 2014, he invested in Xapo, a business that engaged in bitcoin vaults and wallets. He has repeatedly discussed his support of the currency and in interviews.
What is Reid Hoffman Best Known For?
Hoffman’s time at PayPal would lead to him becoming one of the most successful members of the so-called “PayPal Mafia,” the group of men who were involved in the founding and initial IPO of PayPal. These men, headed by Peter Thiel, would become wildly successful, forming new businesses and making billions in Silicon Valley.
Hoffman’s most well-known personal success has been as the founder of LinkedIn, which is now one of the world’s most successful social networks and the most popular business social network in the world. It was Hoffman’s vision and techniques that turned LinkedIn into the success that it is today.
LinkedIn also made Hoffman a very rich man. In addition to his stock ownership, Hoffman reaped the profits when Microsoft purchased LinkedIn in 2016 for $26.2 billion.
Speaking, Writing & Podcasting
Reed has written four books and constantly gives speeches about his entrepreneurial success. He has also turned to Podcasting. Hoffman’s Podcast, Masters of Scale, interviews CEOs and uses these platforms to allow for the CEOs to share the lessons they have learned from their time in the business sector.
Like many multi-billionaires, Hoffman has turned to philanthropic giving. Hoffman has invested heavily in a variety of programs that also encompass his tech interests, including Kiva (peer-to-peer lending) and the Crisis Text Line for suicide prevention.
Reid’s philanthropic involvement has earned him numerous awards. His wife, Michelle, is also heavily involved in guiding his philanthropic investments.
Reid Hoffman: Marriage, Divorce, Children, Personal Life
As of December 2021, Hoffman’s net worth was estimated to be $2.4 billion dollars. Such a net worth places him among the fifty richest people in the United States.
Hoffman married his wife, Michelle Yee, in 2004. Yee is a speech pathologist who stopped seeing patients in order to become more active in philanthropic endeavors.
Hoffman and Yee have no children and have decided against having any.
Reid Hoffman: Awards
As a prominent American businessman, Hoffman has won many awards. Recent ones include:
- Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2017)
- Golden Plate (American Academy of Achievement, 2014) awarded for “significant accomplishments in his field.”
- Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship, 2014, President Barack Obama. Given as part of Hoffman’s efforts to create the next generation of global entrepreneurs.
Reid Hoffman: Books
Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneuers
Masters of Scale would be the first of four books that Sacks would write. In this book, Reid discusses lessons learned from his time interviewing CEOs on his podcast, as well as the things he learned from his time in business.
Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies
In this book, Hoffman discusses his technique known as “blitzscaling,” which involves setting up techniques that allow for a business to be scaled up at remarkable speed. In doing so, a company can destroy its competition by simply outworking them and getting off of the ground faster than they ever could.
The Alliance: Managing Talent in a Networked World
The Alliance: Managing Talent in a Networked World encourages business leaders and entrepreneurs to rethink their relationship with employees and fundamentally alter the power dynamic between the two. Reed argues that business leaders need to think of employees as “allies,” or people who can help create a new and better company.
The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career
InThe Start-up of You, Reed (and his co-author, Ben Casnocha) argues that you have to treat yourself as a start-up. This means constant investment, planning, networking, and risk-taking.
Reid Hoffman Quotes
“If you aren’t embarrassed by the first version of your product, you shipped too late.”
“The person passionate about what he or she is doing will outwork and outlast the guy motivated solely by making money.”
“Everything in life has some risk, and what you have to actually learn to do is how to navigate it.”