LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman talks going from investor to entrepreneur


There is no one in Silicon Valley who’s more connected than Reid Hoffman. That might be because he plays all of the connector roles—sometimes at once.

Hoffman’s a venture capitalist, at Greylock Partners, and an entrepreneur who co-founded LinkedIn, selling it last year for $26 billion. (His net worth is estimated to be north of $3 billion, according to Forbes). Now he has a seat on the board of directors at Microsoft.

After teaching a class at Stanford, he started a podcast, Masters of Scale, that’s about the art and craft of building monster businesses.

Hoffman is deeply qualified on that subject. He was a founding board member at PayPal, and early on became its chief operating officer. That also makes him part of an eclectic group of characters known as the “PayPal Mafia,” former PayPal employees who went on to dizzying heights of success. Those members include Elon Musk, YouTube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, investor Peter Theil, and entrepreneur Max Levchin, to name a few.

Fortt Knox spent some time with Hoffman last week after flying out to San Francisco to moderate a LinkedIn debate in front of a live audience. It wasn’t politics: Reid was debating his friend Tim O’Reilly on the merits of spending gobs of investor money to build startups into dominant forces.

After the debate, Reid sat down with Fortt Knox on the 17th floor of LinkedIn headquarters to talk about how he scaled from a pre-teen who was ambivalent about school, into one of tech’s most prolific builders.

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