Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn
Reid Hoffman started out like everyone else (to an extent). He went to college at Stanford, knew what he wanted to do once he graduated (become a professor), and his life was set. To most, that would be more than enough to make you happy. But as we can continue to see, those with the entrepreneurial bug are never happy. Hoffman decided that branching out on his own and exploring the business world would be more beneficial to his intellect and career than sitting in a classroom. Early jobs for Hoffman included Product Management at Apple and Fujitsu. Not a bad resume to start off with. Soon after those short stints at Apple and Fujitsu, Hoffman started a small online dating website called SocialNet.com.
While at SocialNet.com, Hoffman sat on the board for an electronic money transmission company called PayPal. He liked PayPal so much that he began to work for them as well as sit on the Board. At the time of PayPal’s acquisition by eBay, Reid was the Executive Vice President and was responsible for all external relationships of PayPal. This huge sale of PayPal ($1.5 billion to be exact) brought more than enough money to Hoffman’s bank account. As always, when there is a niche open in a market, someone seizes the opportunity and fills it.
This is where Hoffman’s next major venture took place. After much market research, Hoffman noticed that there was a major void in the social networking space. Sure social networking is great, but how can you trim it down so that only like minded individuals went there? More specifically, a business oriented social network. A place where users can communicate with companies and other workers to highlight their skills and accomplishments to find and share jobs. Long story short, LinkedIn was founded by Hoffman in 2002 based off of these ideas and is now one of the biggest niche social networking sites in the world. Hoffman’s stake in LinkedIn alone is worth over $2 billion.
If you are familiar with the entrepreneurial landscape, most people who start and sell companies for large amounts of money end up going the venture capitalist route to invest and spread their knowledge. According to other VC’s in the space, Hoffman is “arguably the most successful angel investor in the past decade”. Not to make you feel any worse than you probably already do after reading this, but let me just fill you in on some of the investments Reid Hoffman has made. Facebook, Zynga, Flickr, Digg, and Last.fm to name a few. Hoffman is currently with Greylock Partners, leading their Discovery Fund.
The man is a true genius and knows a winner when he sees it. He has the track record to prove it, so keep an eye out on his future investments, because they are sure to take off like his others. When you have the eye, no one can stop you and one can argue that Reid Hoffman reinvented the meaning of “having the eye for success”. Til next week, continue to enjoy Reid Hoffman’s products, which on average the majority of you will use at least once a day. Astounding.