Reid Hoffman

NET WORTH: $4.2 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: PayPal, LinkedIn

FUNDING AREAS: Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Activism, Education

OVERVIEW: Hoffman's supports organizations that work at a grassroots level, and has has a very capitalistic approach to his philanthropy, investing in organizations that he thinks have the most potential to do good. He sits on the boards of a number of organizations, including Kiva, a microlending organization, Endeavor Global, which supports "high-impact entrepreneurs," and is the westcoast advisory chair of Questbridge, an inner-city youth education outfit.

BACKGROUND: Hoffman grew up in Berkeley, CA, attended Stanford University as an undergrad, and received a Masters from Oxford. Initially, he wanted to be a public intellectual, but then realized he could have a greater impact as an entrepreneur, which led him to join Apple in 1994. He also worked briefly for Fujitsu before founding his first company, SocialNet.com, which has been decribed as "literally an idea before its time." He was a board member at the founding of Paypal, where he was once COO and Executive VP, but is probably best known as a co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn. Paypal's eventual sale to eBay gave Hoffman the capital to become one of Silicon Valley's most successful and prolific angel investors, and most recently, he has joined Greylock Partners, whose portfolio includes companies such as Linkedin, Facebook, Workday, and Airbnb.

PHILOSOPHY: Whether Hoffman is serving in his role as the cofounder of Linked­In or Greylock Partners, or as an independent philanthropist, he always asks himself a simple question: "How can a fixed amount of money reach the most people and do the most good?"

Hoffman joins a long line of tech entrepreneurs who believe in the concept that while donations to worthy causes are fine, getting the most bang for those bucks requires an investor's mindset. His massive success with start-ups led him to something of a revelation: He "...wanted to do the same thing on the not-for-profit side as on the for-profit side." Namely, he wanted to create platforms that could "...scale impact using techniques from Silicon Valley — marketplaces, innovation, funding."

When considering whether or not to support a non-profit, Hoffman actually looks at much the same things he examines when investing in a start-up: scalability, margins, and structure, but he doesn't tend to just write a check and leave it at that. Seeing himself as more of an investor and partner than a donor, Hoffman guides his grantmaking to make sure the money makes a difference, which in some cases least means he ends up sitting on the non-profit's board. 

ISSUES: 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Hoffman is a board member of Kiva, a microlending organization that facilitates loans for small business development, primarily in developing countries with the idea that helping people become self-reliant will lift them and their communities out of poverty. In one of his few publicly announced gifts, Hoffman donated $1 million to Kiva in 2012. His donation went directly toward Kiva's microlending program with the idea that it would allow 40,000 people to "try" Kiva without having to donate their own money. Presumably, Reid is hoping that after seeing the results of their decisions to fund individual entrepreneurs, people would be enouraged to donate their own money and become repeat microlenders. 

SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Hoffman has served on the board of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit that supports what it refers to as "High-Impact Entrepreneurs" around the world. The main goal is to facilitate increased employment and high-quality jobs in developing areas. The types of ideas that receive support vary widely, and include examples such as tech companies, shopping clubs, and women-only gyms. The only qualification seems to be a sound business model that will benefit the community, and stacks up against the rigorous metrics that Endeavor uses to determine who receives investments, and the impact those investments make.

YOUTH ACTIVISM: Hoffman has supported DoSomething.org, a nonprofit that engages young people volunterrism, and activities aimed at bringing about social change. 

EDUCATION: Hoffman serves as Advisory Board Chair for QuestBridge, an organization that connects high-achieving low-income students to educational and scholarship opportunities at leading U.S colleges and Universities. He is also a board member of the Exploratorium, an educational museum of science, art and human perception in San Fransisco. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: In winter of 2015 Hoffman joined a collective of other tech companies and entrepreneurs in donating a combined $1 billion to OpenAI, a nonprofit focused on bettering "digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole."

GIVING THROUGH LINKEDIN: Like a number of other tech entrepreneurs, Hoffman has realized that the companies that have made him successful not only allow him to offer significant personal support to the causes he cares about, but can also be used as a platform to do good. In 2013, LinkedIn launched its Nonprofit Innovation Grants program, which awards $10,000 to "employee-championed organizations looking to launch or scale new, unique programs." Perhaps the most impactful piece of giving that LinkedIn does though is through the professional network itself, with LinkedIn Board Member Connect, a feature of LinkedIn that enables nonprofits to connect with potential board members, funding sources, and volunteers through a non-profit peer network.

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CONTACT:

  • LinkedIn Corporation, 2029 Stierlin Ct., Mountain View, CA, 94043, 650-687-3600

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