Opportunities Everywhere: Reid Hoffman and Josh Elman of Greylock Partners | Summary and Q&A

September 13, 2016
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Opportunities Everywhere: Reid Hoffman and Josh Elman of Greylock Partners

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This video features a panel discussion with Reed Hoffman and Josh Ullman from Greylock Partners. They discuss various topics including politics, tech M&A, self-driving cars, mobile apps, AI, and building networks. They also touch on the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft and the idea of moonshot projects.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did Reed Hoffman pledge up to five million dollars and a 5x match of donations to a Marine Corps veteran who wants Trump's tax returns released?

Reed Hoffman believes that transparency is crucial in a democracy and that understanding the candidates running for high elected office is important. He saw the campaign on CrowdPAC as a way to support veterans and incentivize Donald Trump to release his tax returns.

Q: Does a Trump presidency scare Reed Hoffman?

Reed Hoffman initially claims to be in denial, but he expresses concern about a Trump presidency. He believes that Hillary Clinton is the most prepared candidate and that Trump's lack of public service and focus on himself is terrifying for the US and its foreign relations.

Q: How does Josh Ullman feel about a Trump presidency?

Josh Ullman shares Reed Hoffman's concerns about a Trump presidency. He mentions the need for a steady hand in leadership and expresses fear about Trump's tendency to change his mind or have doublespeak on various issues.

Q: Is the pace of tech M&A increasing? If so, why?

Reed Hoffman believes that the pace of tech M&A is increasing for two main reasons. Firstly, companies that have been heavily funded or have gone public are starting to face challenges and are joining larger companies with stronger balance sheets to achieve their mission. Secondly, non-tech companies are also making strategic acquisitions in technology, indicating a shift towards investing in the next big technologies.

Q: Is now a good time to start a company in the self-driving car market?

Reed Hoffman believes there is an interesting opportunity in the self-driving car market, but it depends on the uniqueness of technology and talent. He advises against jumping into the market without experience, but recognizes the potential of self-driving technology and networks.

Q: How is AI affecting the mobile app market?

Josh Ullman disagrees with the belief that mobile is dead. He points out that people are still downloading and trying new apps, as demonstrated by the success of Pokemon Go. He also mentions the emergence of new forms of AI interfaces, such as voice assistants like Amazon Echo, and believes that AI will continue to shape and enhance mobile experiences.

Q: Are there still opportunities for entrepreneurs in AI, or will big companies like Amazon dominate the field?

Reed Hoffman acknowledges the dominance of big companies like Google and Microsoft in the AI field, but he believes that there are still opportunities for entrepreneurs to create innovative and transformative products and experiences. He emphasizes the importance of getting the product and experience right, rather than just having access to technology.

Q: How has building networks changed since LinkedIn was founded?

Reed Hoffman explains that building networks now has to be done within the context of existing networks that meet certain needs and functions. While some techniques, such as invitations and discovery, remain the same, the challenge lies in creating a new edge and unique value proposition that can define a human ecosystem within the existing network landscape.

Q: Did Reed Hoffman foresee a Microsoft acquisition for LinkedIn?

Reed Hoffman's focus was always on being in service to the mission of LinkedIn, which is to make individuals productive. Whether LinkedIn remained independent or combined with another company like Microsoft was not a specific thought at the time. The decision to combine with Microsoft was made with the belief that it would create more value for LinkedIn members in terms of connecting with opportunities and being productive.

Q: Are there any moonshot opportunities outside of fields like AI and AR/VR?

Reed Hoffman explains that moonshots are about doing something very different from what everyone else is doing, so there is no simple answer in terms of categories. However, he mentions the health space as an interesting area for transformation if entrepreneurs can navigate the complexities of regulation and funding. He also hints at a recent stealth investment that he is excited about.


This panel discussion covered a wide range of topics including politics, technology, and entrepreneurship. Some key takeaways include the importance of transparency in democracy, the potential of self-driving technology, the continued relevance of mobile apps, the opportunities in AI and building networks, the acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft, and the potential for moonshot projects in various fields.

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