Want Some Time with Reid Hoffman? Just Ask Him

This post was originally published on Nov. 02, 2010. We are republishing it today in light of the great interest in Reid Hoffman’s Oct. 15 blog post about how he convinced Greylock Partners to invest in LinkedIn.

Want to cozy up to angel extraordinaire-turned-VC Reid Hoffman? We suggest learning the board game “Settlers of Catan.” Or, better yet, ask him to teach you how to play. (See video below.) Hoffman — co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock Partners — is a genuinely nice guy who has a hard time saying no to legitimate requests for help.

As Tom Stein notes in his excellent profile of Hoffman in this month’s Venture Capital Journal, German ad exec Cyriac Roeding sent a message to Hoffman six years ago not really expecting him to respond. Hoffman not only responded, but he also invited Roeding to breakfast the next time he was in Palo Alto, Calif.

Roeding took him up on the offer, and the pair met several times a year over the next few years. “I have no idea why Reid ever took that first meeting,” Roeding says. “He is so insanely busy, but he always manages to find the time.”

Ultimately, Roeding was inspired to launch his own Silicon Valley startup, Shopkick, which makes a mobile application that rewards shoppers for walking into stores. Hoffman led Greylock’s $15 million investment in Shopkick and took a board seat, his first since joining the venture firm.

If you’re thinking Roeding is an exception, think again. In interview after interview with Hoffman’s friends and colleagues, 

Stein found that Hoffman is altruistic to a fault, making himself available at all hours.

“I recently went to Reid’s house on a Sunday, and I had the 2 p.m. slot,” says friend and angel investor Jeff Clavier. “There was a team of entrepreneurs walking out the door when I got there. They left and Reid and I had a nice chat for an hour. And right when I was getting ready to leave, his next appointment was coming in. So, from 8 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m., he was booked solid. And this is a Sunday we’re talking about!”

Hoffman will even make time to teach people how to play “Settlers of Catan,” a game he says “most approximates entrepreneurship.”

In the following video clip, Hoffman says: “I have now gotten — strangely, to me — this reputation of: ‘Oh, have Reid teach you Settlers. He teaches Settlers the best!’ It’s like, OK, that wasn’t really the identity I aspired to.”

Subscribers to Venture Capital Journal can read Stein’s profile of Hoffman and see a massive table of his investments by clicking here.

Here, Hoffman talks about “Settlers of Catan.”

Reid Hoffman interview by Venture Capital Journal from lawrence aragon on Vimeo.

Image credit: Photo of Reid Hoffman by Stephen Lam for Reuters Venture Capital Journal, 2010.

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