Now we’re on to the fireside chat with Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn prolific angel investor, and VC David Sze. They’re both partners at Greylock Partners. TechCrunch editors Mike Arrington and Erick Schonfeld are moderating.
Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Pandora, LinkedIn–these companies are some of the most successful startups in the Valley, and most had many naysayers.
Q: What disruptive spaces are underinvested in? Hoffman: Mobile e-commerce. Consumerification of the enterprise.
Q: Are Silicon Valley startups really tackling hard problems? Hoffman: Yes. But is it important to be doing stuff in the hard sciences? It would be great.
Q: What happened to Cuil (which appears to have hit the skids)? Sze: Not close enough to say. Cuil is not done, it’s in the process of a lot of things.
Q: Is it a good thing that things sometimes go wrong? Sze: Yes, it shows you’re taking risks.
Q: Digg seems to be at an inflection point–what’s next? Sze: The last launch didn’t go well, but they’ve made some changes. All the successful companies hit these points. The key is the ability to power through them.
Q: What were LinkedIn’s inflection points? Hoffman: Every year, you actually hit something, no matter how well you’re doing.
Q: Can LinkedIn really overcome Facebook’s more universal appeal? Hoffman: All our numbers are better every month and every quarter. It’s a different consumer value proposition. Sze: Stuff happens in email (but that doesn’t mean LinkedIn isn’t of value in a professional setting). We want some separate between different things. (I agree–very different kinds of services. Some overlap, but I’m doubtful I’ll go full bore on Facebook for all professional things. But the question is how big LinkedIn can be. Less sure of that.)