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Reid Hoffman Likes Facebook's Like Button

Reid Hoffman says the social networking site's move to spread across the Web will be good for almost all online start-ups.

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Reid Hoffman, co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn Corp.

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Social networking guru Reid Hoffman – the founder of LinkedIn and a former PayPal exec – says Facebook's move to take over the Web is good for entrepreneurs.

'I think it's a great idea,' Hoffman said Tuesday at the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association in Burlingame, California. (Hoffman, who's also a Facebook investor, is now a partner in Greylock Partners.) 'It's very bold. It's a good poster to all entrepreneurs – ‘here's how you can think big.''

What Facebook calls its Open Graph initiative – spreading its 'Like' button and plug-ins across the Web – will help most web start-ups with the exception of direct plug-in competitors, he said. He compared Facebook to a tanker ship, saying most companies could pull their ships alongside the good ship Facebook, but a few would be destroyed because they're directly in its path. 

 'That's always what happens in these kinds of competitive circumstances,' he said.

Hoffman added: 'While it may be difficult to build a sharing social network like Facebook… look at Twitter and Zynga, both of whom were relatively new entrants a couple of years ago. Some think that social on the Web is over because a handful of companies are extremely strong. That's not the case.'

Meanwhile, Hoffman currently is on the hunt for companies who tap into one of the seven 'deadly sins.' (How does, say, LinkedIn score? Greed, plus ego and vanity, he says.)

He'll invest in social media startups that draw on basic human urges because they connect emotionally with users.

Where does he see the most opportunity for social media start-ups? Mobile and location services and careers and job services.

Last updated: May 5, 2010

Inc. contributing editor COURTNEY RUBIN was for five years a London-based staff writer for People magazine. Rubin, a former senior writer for Washingtonian magazine, has written for the New York Times magazine, Time, Marie Claire, and other publications. She is the author of The Weight-Loss Diaries.




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