Reid Hoffman is an American internet entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of LinkedIn. Hoffman was born on August 5, 1967, in Palo Alto, California, US, to Deanna Ruth and William Parker Hoffman, Jr. as their only child. His parents were lawyers. He went to the Putney School where he engaged in various other activities such as farming maple syrup and driving oxen along with his studies. After completing high school he went to Stanford University from where he graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and Cognitive Science. He proved to be a highly capable university student and successfully won a Marshall Scholarship, one of the most prestigious scholarships awarded in the United States. As a Marshall Scholar he earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Wolfson College, Oxford University in 1993. While in the university Reid was interested in pursuing an academic career as a professor and public intellectual. However, he realized later on that his true interest was in becoming an entrepreneur.
Soon after his graduation from Oxford, Reid Hoffman joined Apple Computers in 1994. One of the first projects he worked on was eWorld, an early attempt at creating a social network which was acquired by AOL in 1996. He also worked on Classifieds, Global Access Assistant, and other strategic projects. He left Apple and worked at Fujitsu for a while. By this time, he was giving serious thoughts to opening his own company. In 1997, he co-founded his first company, SocialNet.com. It focused “on online dating and matching up people with similar interests”. However, he was inexperienced in business management and was forced to abandon the project in 1999. While still managing SocialNet, Hoffman became a member of the board of directors who founded the electronic money transmission service, PayPal. He joined PayPal as the company’s full-time COO in 2000.
Reid Hoffman co-founded LinkedIn in December 2002 with some of his former colleagues and friends. It was launched as one of the first business-oriented online social networks. The site, which allows registered users to create professional profiles and connect with each other, became popular soon after its launch. Hoffman served as LinkedIn’s founding CEO for the first four years before becoming chairman and President, Products in February 2007. By 2009, he had become executive chairman.