Why Reid Hoffman Is Entrepreneur of the Decade
Although most of the news and face time seems to go to 'hot shot' founders and CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, those sudden billionaires aren't really the role model for great entrepreneurship and are, frankly, mostly just testaments to blind luck. Sure, Zuckerberg hit on a great idea with Facebook, but the social networking market was getting ready for a Myspace replacement and he happened to be there at the right time to do it. That's basically the story of Facebook's founding.
Reid Hoffman, though, is the CEO no one's ever heard of. Until this week, anyway, when his little company went public and their initial public offering (IPO) blasted onto the market with a blitz so staggering it outranked Google, Tesla Motors, and all the other hot stocks of the past decade. I'm talking, of course, of LinkedIn, the social network for careers and business.
Hoffman, unlike Zuckerberg, hit on the right idea at the right time, but took a long time getting it there. He did what's fundamental to every real business and what most entrepreneurs do, without fail, to become successful: he worked at it.
The Beginnings of the Hoffman Empire
LinkedIn started when Myspace was just starting to become popular and now-defunct Friendster was the 'sexy' thing in social networking. Compared to both, LinkedIn was downright boring. It's plain screens, simplistic Google-like graphics, and blah premise of linking people together by virtue of business credentials, was about as sexy as snails on the Discovery Channel.
Hoffman had invested in a lot of startups when he got LinkedIn going, but he put all of his energy into the new idea. At the time, everyone in Silicon Valley was jumping on the social media bandwagon and pushing venture capital at companies like Friendster, Tribe, and others.
The difference was that, while boring, LinkedIn served a metric the others didn't: professionals. It became a sort of online resume that you could link with others and use to do the networking you'd normally do live and in person. This meant professionals could talk to and link to one another outside of conferences, phone calls, and other disparate events. LinkedIn IDs slowly became a business card staple along with phone and email.Continued on the next page