- LinkedIn cofounder and billionaire investor Reid Hoffman is one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley.
- He has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Democratic candidates and organisations, including the controversial “Win the Future” initiative.
- He considers his activist role to be his obligation.
Like his close friend Peter Thiel, LinkedIn cofounder and Greylock Partners investor Reid Hoffman was invigorated by the election of President Donald Trump – but for the opposite reason.
He has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Democratic candidates and organisations since Trump has taken office, and he told Business Insider he sees it as his obligation.
Hoffman has been a Democratic donor for a while, having donated $US1 million to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, but his hatred for Trump has led him to take a much more prominent role in politics.
This also included his participation in the $US500,000 seed round of Zynga founder Marc Pincus’ political initiative Win the Future (WTF), and his role as an adviser to Pincus. Critics on the left, including in outlets like the HuffPost and Vanity Fair, criticised the notion of two tech billionaires who think they know what’s best for the Democrats.
In a recent interview for Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It,” we asked Hoffman why he thinks taking a more prominent role in politics is a good idea, especially in the context of growing suspicions around the influence of big money on campaigns.
“Well, just because it’s money doesn’t necessarily mean it’s corrupting or challenging. I think with power comes responsibility – it’s essentially Spider-Man ethics,” he said, referencing the guiding principle of the comic book hero. “And money is essentially … power. I try to do a set of investments and things that really enhance human potential, including within political or other arenas.”
You can listen to the full episode here:
He invested $US300,000 into the Democratic PAC Win Virginia ahead of election day this year, which was about a third of its funding, according to the Washington Post. The Virginia elections were seen as an experiment on how to run progressive campaigns under Trump, and Hoffman paid close attention. The Democrats ended up taking the governorship and 15 state delegate seats from Republicans.
Hoffman has said he doesn’t want to be seen as the left’s version of the billionaire conservative donors the Koch brothers, but rather approaches politics the same way he does tech startups.
“Overall, I would say that I kind of take a Silicon Valley investing approach to the whole thing, which is: I look for where I can invest money, time, support in a project [that] could make a really big difference in the world, including potentially a really big difference in providing the right sort of governance for the society that we all live in,” he said.
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