Reid Hoffman is a very successful entrepreneur. He is the co-founder of PayPal and has also served on Google’s board of directors. However, his success was not easy.
Reid effectively failed with his first attempt at entrepreneurship. He created a social dating application that no one wanted to use.
But Reid’s story starts right there. After understanding the business concept, he teamed up with others to create PayPal. This was his first real success as an entrepreneur. And from there, he continued to build other projects.
If he succeeded, it is thanks to a secret that allowed him to learn how to do business in the world of social media. A rule that applies to those who dream of doing economics with social media. But also offline.
Read on, I’ll explain what I’m talking about later. A lesson that emerges from Hoffman’s story.
Reid Hoffman studied at Stanford where he graduated in Symbolic Systems (a program that combines computer science, philosophy and linguistics). He later decided to pursue an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
It was during his time as an MBA student that Reid had his first experience with social networks.
“A classmate of his, Peter Thiel, introduced him to The WELL internet forum: it was a social networking site that predated the modern internet. It was a place where people could share ideas and discuss various topics. ”
This was Reid’s first introduction to the power of social networking. And it would serve as the basis for his later successes.
After completing his MBA, Reid started working in a software company: it was Apple.
Where he took care of the creation and development of eWorld, a social network that the Cupertino house sold to AOL just two years later. Eventually, however, he left Apple.
Hoffman worked for a few months at Fujitsu, before starting his first start-up which he founded in 1997.
It was SocialNet.com, a website that specializes in combining online dating and looking for people with like-minded interests.
According to some, SocialNet.com was the precursor of the era of social networks, but arrived too ahead of its time: 7 or 8 years.
In fact, no one signed up and it was a total flop.
But as the SocialNet experience continued through thick and thin, Hoffman became part of a group of computer scientists united by a bizarre idea: to create a money transfer service that works on the net.
With Peter Thiel, Max Levchin and Luke Nosek, the same people with whom he had founded SocialNet.com two years earlier, a new project was born.
“That service would have been called PayPal and would have led Hoffman, in January 2000, to permanently abandon SocialNet to devote himself full time to the development of the platform”.
PayPal is a payment processor that allows people to send and receive payments online.
And within two years, it had grown to 1 million users.
Reid served as the company’s chief operating officer (COO).
In 2003, Reid was appointed to the board of administration of Google, where he served until 2009.
LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. It is often described as the “Facebook of the professionals.”
He collaborated with Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant: in 2003, LinkedIn Corporation was born in Palo Alto, California.
LinkedIn today has over 750 million members and is currently valued at $26.2 billion.
Reid is currently the executive chairman of the company and his net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion.
Thus the idea for LinkedIn was born. Reid saw a need for a site where professionals could connect with each other, share ideas and find jobs.
LinkedIn was a success and became the go-to site for professionals around the world. It is used by millions of people to connect with employers, colleagues and potential business partners.
It is currently valued at $26.2 billion and its net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion.
In the beginning, however, this network of professionals struggled to take off and to have users:
“During the first years of life, despite starting slower than expected, the start-up got 4.7 million dollars from the investment fund Sequoia Capital”.
– In 2004, the platform reached its first million users, with a good level of growth which, however, was judged insufficient by investors.
The growth of LinkedIn users was not very rapid until 2006, when paid functions were added to the platform that were very useful for companies to find the best professional profiles according to their needs.
– In 2007, however, it finally surpassed 10 million users, becoming the main way to look for work or employees in California.
The following year it arrived in Europe: the first countries to adopt it were France and Spain.
– 2008 was also an important year for Jeff Wiener’s entry into the company, whom Hoffman appointed as president and who became CEO of LinkedIn in 2009 (until 2020).
It had no subscribers on its site and no one was considering it as a value option for their business or social life.
And it was another step that got it off the ground.
In 2003, Reid came up with the idea of LinkedIn. At first, no one was interested. But Reid persisted and eventually grew the company to millions of members.
And today, Reid is a multimillionaire. LinkedIn is one of the most successful social networking sites in the world. All because Reid Hoffman refused to give up on his dreams.
All this above, all because of one rule:
“You must arrive at the right time on the market.”
If you make a mistake, you could surely fail. Just as Reid did with the encounter platform. Too ahead of its time.
While LinkedIn has grasped a real and web need. Just like Paypal came at the right time.
Because in the end the dating app was also a brilliant idea, that is useless if you have customers. And customers need to be ready to serve you.
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