Video: 1 on 1 with Reid Hoffman, the Mastermind Behind LinkedIn


Reid Hoffman. Photo by Stephen Lam for VCJ
Reid Hoffman. Photo by Stephen Lam for VCJ

LinkedIn’s IPO was the big story Wednesday, and it promises to top the news again Thursday when its shares start trading on the NYSE. The company’s bankers priced its shares at $45 apiece — the top of their range, and much higher than the $32 to $35 range anticipated just a week earlier — giving the professional social network a market cap in excess of $4 billion.

By any measure, it is a stunning achievement for Reid Hoffman, the company’s founder and largest shareholder (he owns about 22% of LinkedIn) and a general partner at Greylock Partners. And it’s only the start for Hoffman, who was a prolific angel investor before joining Greylock in November 2009, backing more than 80 startups, including Facebook and Zynga.

For those still unfamiliar with Hoffman — or who want to reacquaint themselves with him — we are sharing two videos shot by peHUB sister publication Venture Capital Journal.

Tom Stein, who wrote the cover story on Hoffman for the Novemver 2010 VCJ, found Hoffman to be a genuinely nice guy who has a hard time saying no to legitimate requests for help. For example, 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 on behalf of Greylock.

If you’re thinking Roeding is an exception, think again. In interview after interview with Hoffman’s friends and colleagues — including Peter Thiel of Founders Fund, Mark Kvamme of Sequoia Capital and Jeff Clavier of SoftTechVC — 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,” Clavier said. “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!”

As you will learn from one of the following videos, Hoffman will even make time to teach people how to play “Settlers of Catan,” a game he says “most approximates entrepreneurship.”

Subscribers to Venture Capital Journal can read Stein’s profile of Hoffman here. (Not a VCJ subscriber: Get a free trial subscription here.)

The following two videos (shot in September 2010) will help you get into Hoffman’s head.

In the first video, Hoffman talks about how his moral principles drive investment decisions, why he largely avoids sitting on the boards of non profits and why he asks people he interviews for jobs to write their own obituaries.

In the second video, Hoffman talks about “Settlers of Catan,” a game he is often asked to teach other entrepreneurs and VCs.

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