The American internet entrepreneur, venture capitalist and author co-founded and became the executive chairman of LinkedIn. He is ranked #630 on the Forbes 2017 list of the world’s billionaires, with a net worth of US$3.3 billion.
Hoffman was born in Palo Alto, California. During his childhood, he describes himself as once being a tabletop roleplaying gamer and had gotten his first paid job (at age 12) as an editor at the game company Chaosium.
Hoffman attended high school at The Putney School, where he farmed maple syrup, drove oxen and studied epistemology. He graduated from Stanford University in 1990, where he won both a Marshall Scholarship and a Dinkelspiel Award, with a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and Cognitive Science. He went on to earn an M.St. in Philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford University in 1993 as a Marshall Scholar.
While in college, Hoffman decided that he wanted to try to influence the state of the world on a large scale.
“When I graduated from Stanford my plan was to become a professor and public intellectual. That is not about quoting Kant. It’s about holding up a lens to society and asking ‘who are we?’ and ‘who should we be, as individuals and a society?’ But I realised academics write books that 50 or 60 people read and I wanted more impact.”
And so, with that ideology in mind he pursued a career in business and entrepreneurship. His first job was an internship at Inglenook, a winery in Napa Valley. He later joined Apple Computer in 1994, where he worked on eWorld, an early attempt at creating a social network and worked at Fujitsu before co-founding his first company – SocialNet.com in 1997.
While at SocialNet, Hoffman was a member of the board of directors during the founding of PayPal and in 2000, he left SocialNet and joined PayPal full-time as the company’s COO. Two years later, Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn two former colleagues from SocialNet (including Allen Blue), a former college classmate and a former colleague from his time at Fujitsu. By November 2014, LinkedIn had over 332 million members in more than 200 countries and territories. Consequently, Hoffman was LinkedIn’s founding CEO for the first four years before becoming chairman and president of products in 2007 and became executive chairman in 2009. After Microsoft proposed to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash, Hoffman became a board member of Microsoft.
He is also an avid investor. After the PayPal sale to eBay, Hoffman became one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific and successful angel investors. In 2010 Hoffman joined Greylock Partners and runs their $20 million Discovery Fund.
Hoffman’s current venture capital investments include Airbnb, Apollo Fusion, Aurora, Blockstream, Coda, Convoy, Entrepreneur First, Gixo, Nauto, Xapo. Past investments include 3DSolve, Coupons.com, Digg, Edmodo, Flickr, IronPort, Knewton, Kongregate, Last.fm, Nanosolar, One KingsLane, Permuto, Ping.fm, Shopkick, SixApart, thesixtyone, Swipely, Tagged, Technetto, TrialPay, Vendio, VigLink, Viki, Wikia, and Wrapp! He served on Zynga’s board of directors from 2008 to 2014, and on shopkick’s board of directors from its foundation in 2009 until its acquisition by SK Telecom in 2014.