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Reid Hoffman on How to Know If Your Product Will Fail

The co-founder of LinkedIn discusses his new book "The Alliance" and shares a simple rule for testing out new products.

Reid Hoffman (above, left) is no stranger to the process of launching new products.

At LinkedIn, Hoffman gives all new ideas for the website what he calls the "front page test." This involves asking the simple but very important question of whether LinkedIn users will ultimately benefit from having a new feature on their home page.

For example, when the company created the ability to endorse connections for particular skills, Hoffman says he initially knew some users would be turned off by the unfamiliarity of the process.

"People always have uncertainty when they first encounter a new social pattern or new technology. We said, ‘We know we’re going to hit all that and we know that that will cause some concern among some people, however we also know that this is ultimately something that’s beneficial to people,'" Hoffman says.

In the end, passing the front page test proved more important than the downsides of the new tool, which LinkedIn continues to refine. 

"Maybe it’s a little noisy in terms of communication protocol, maybe people are a little discomforted by it initially...but [the front page test] was what gave us the confidence that it actually was a product worth building and launching." 

For more tips on testing out new products, watch the video below. 


Reid Hoffman's Surprising (and Highly Effective) Hiring Strategy

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman talks to Inc.'s Eric Schurenberg about his unique hiring strategy, networking best practices for entrepreneurs, and his new book “The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.”

Last updated: Jul 18, 2014


Graham Winfrey is a staff writer for He previously covered alternative investments at Private Equity International magazine, prior to which he worked at Business Insider and He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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