LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner And Arianna Huffington On Why More Grads Need To Join Startups

Venture For America hosted a huge party last night at the IAC headquarters in New York City. It was filled with tech entrepreneurs, including Warby Parker’s Dave Gilboa and Rent The Runway’s Jen Hyman, among other fashionable guests; but the biggest names in attendance were the keynote speakers, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Arianna Huffington. 

A crowd of a few hundred was there to support a VFA, which has made itself one of the most important nonprofit organisations in America since Andrew Yang founded it two years ago.

Huffington told Yang on stage: “You were one year old when I met you, and my god, how you’ve grown. You are now a phenomenal toddler. When you’re a teenager, truly watch out.”

VFA recruits and trains high-achieving college grads to work for two years at early-stage companies in lower-cost cities, including Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Cincinnati. Its inaugural class of 40 is now joined by this year’s 65 fellows.

So far, the organisation has received some big pledges, including $1 million from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and $1.5 million from Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert, both of whom are working to revitalize Las Vegas and Detroit, respectively.

Huffington’s keynote was about redefining success, which is the essence of what VFA is doing. “For me, spending so much time with a dysfunctional corporate system, it’s refreshing to watch what’s happening with VFA,” she said. “On one side, it’s depressing conversations about what’s going on in this country, about its deficits. And on the other side, it’s about creativity, prioritizing the common good — that’s VFA.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner mingled with fellows and VFA supporters before speaking to the crowd.

This VFA fellow discovered his face on one of the napkins.

There were several fully stocked bars at the IAC headquarters.

Tables were themed for the VFA cities, including Cincinnati, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and more.

Soon Weiner, Arianna Huffington, and VFA Founder Andrew Yang took to the stage.

The evening started out with a few special messages, including one from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, last year's keynote speaker.

The 2012 fellows shared what their lives are like in their respective cities; here, the Vegas fellows enjoy competitive ping pong.

New Orleans Fellow Mike Mayer shared how he co-launched Startup Effect, which develops entrepreneurship curriculums for middle school students.

Yang shared VFA's ambitious goal: to create 100,000 jobs by 2025.

The crowd was into it.

Yang and Huffington met last year at a forum on job creation at the Democratic National Convention.

Weiner previously bought the URL with the intention of building something similar to what VFA is today.

Afterward, 2012 and 2013 fellows posed for a photo.

Now read about how America's education system is being disrupted

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