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< All founders' list

Reid Hoffman

Quit Job to Start
Doesn't Code
Year of founding:
Current age:
Net worth:

1. Background

Education: Master of Studies, Philosophy

College: Oxford University

Previous Career:

- Board Member, multiple start-ups

- Executive VP, Paypal - 2002

- Director of Product Management, Fujitsu - 1997

- Software Architect, Apple - 1996

2. Origin Story

The Spark

In 2002, Reid Hoffman, an accomplished Silicon Valley veteran gathered a team of old colleagues to work on a new idea. It was for a network that allowed professionals to find and connect with one another. He was inspired by the concept of Six Degrees, an invite-only social network for professionals that had risen to prominence in the '90s but had subsequently shut down. He was a senior executive at PayPal when it was sold to eBay, and with the money he earned from the sale, he personally financed LinkedIn in its early days.

The Launch

LinkedIn officially launched on May 5th, 2003, just six months after the start of development. When it launched, online social networks were being used for dating and connecting with friends; they weren't considered efficient meeting places for business. After the first week, the site had registered close to 12.5K users. Still, according to the company’s own numbers, growth was initially slow, and some days saw as few as twenty signups. They overcome challenges posed by the most popular social network at the time, Friendster, and the slow economy, courtesy of the 'dotcom winter'. They did this by focusing on making LinkedIn an image of 'eliteness'. LinkedIn was made to seem like a place where successful execs could come together and expand their reach.

The 'Perfect' Startup

Within four months, LinkedIn had hit the 50,000 user mark. Having a lot of Silicon Valley experience in their founding team, they managed to land $4.7M in venture capital from Sequoia Capital in their first major financing round. Within a year of launch, it reached 500,000 users, and in 2006, just three years post-launch, LinkedIn achieved profitability.

3. Other interesting points

- Hoffman has an odd, but effective technique that he uses when interviewing executives. He has them write their obituary, and what they want to be known for when they die.

- Hoffman, for a long time, drove the same Acura he had bought more than a decade ago. He has been quite successful at making money, but he is indifferent to the monetary success. When he finally bought an Audi S7, he stated "The S7 would be the most extravagant purchase I’ve made for myself."

4. Quote

"What makes the meaning of life is people, so you try to be good to people immediately around you and in your broader community. So a lot of my projects are about how I can affect the world in the hundreds of millions."

5. Company growth & sources (links)

Personal Story

How did they grow the company?