Taking startups from unknown zero to global hero is, without a doubt, Reid Hoffman’s strong suit.
In the years since launching LinkedIn out of his living room, he's made some seriously savvy investments in startups like Facebook, Dropbox and Airbnb -- and that’s just the short list.
Hoffman, who helped build PayPal before creating the world’s largest professional network, knows the secrets to surviving and thriving in the scale-or-die Silicon Valley startup world intimately well. And now he’s returning to his alma mater in Palo Alto, Calif., to formally share those secrets with a lucky few.
Starting Sept. 22, the billionaire Greylock Partners investor will teach a free class at Stanford University that aims to show students how to rapidly scale scale startups, “with real stories from the people who’ve done it.”
The class, which will be held in Stanford’s engineering department, is titled “CS183C: Technology-enabled Blitzscaling.” Students who take it will “examine how technology enables hyper growth and can help entrepreneurs and organizations manage that growth,” a statement from Greylock Partners reads.
If you’re wondering what “blitzscaling” means, you’re not alone. Here’s how Hoffman explained the concept, which will be the topic of his next book, to Entrepreneur:
“It’s not about being the first mover to market, but first mover at scale. Because we live in a network age, everything is accelerated and companies need to quickly grow to beat out the global competition. This is what I call blitzscaling.”
Joining Hoffman to teach the class are some of Silicon Valley’s top tech elite and, fittingly, all Stanford alums. They are: Chris Yeh, an angel investor and entrepreneur who co-authored a book with Hoffman, John Lilly, a fellow Greylock Partners investor and the former CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, and Allen Blue, who co-founded LinkedIn with Hoffman and is currently the social network’s vice president of product management.
Every two weeks, the class will cover how to prepare for different levels of scale, from one to 10 employees, from 10 to 100 employees, all the way up to thousands and more, Lilly tells Entrepreneur. Each startup growth phase discussed will feature three guest speakers “who have personal experience with that level of scale,” Hoffman writes in a blog post on LinkedIn detailing the course.
“We’ll teach students everything from when to punch the gas on marketing after starting a company,” Lilly says, “to when it’s time to turn up recruiting new employees and how to actually do that. You walk around Stanford and you see all these buildings donated by Bill Gates or Paul Allen or Jerry Yang, and all they all built really long-lasting, durable companies. We’re going to teach you how to scale up to that level.”
Lilly, Hoffman and their colleagues and friends aren’t the only Silicon Valley Internet business veterans students will glean wisdom from during the semester-long curriculum. They’ll also be privy to “fireside chat”-style conversations with the likes of LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Y Combinator president Sam Altman, Code for America founder and executive director Jennifer Pahlka, SurveyMonkey president and chief technical officer Selina Tobaccowala, and many others.
Eighty class seats are reserved for currently enrolled Stanford students and 20 for entrepreneurs who apply and make the cut. Stanford students can apply here. Others can put their names in the hat here. If you think you have what it takes to make the grade, you’d better hurry up and apply. The deadline is this Fri., Sept. 18.
As for the student selection process, Hoffman and his cohorts are looking for entrepreneurs who are dead set on impacting an entire industry and the world on a massive scale.
No pressure, right? Only serious entrepreneurs “with serious intent” need apply. Wanting Greylock Partners to fund your startup is not a reason to take the class. Neither is simply “hearing famous people speak,” the application clearly explains.
“Building great, world-changing companies requires more than just building a cool app and raising some money,” Hoffman says. “It requires entrepreneurs to build massive organizations, user bases, and businesses, and to do so at a dizzyingly rapid pace. That's how a Mark Zuckerberg can build a Facebook from garage startup to the world's most popular Internet service in just six years.”
If you’re not the next Mark Zuckerberg and don’t get into the course, all is not lost. Videos of each class will eventually be posted online, says Lilly. “Even if you can’t be in the room, all of the lessons we share will still be yours," he says. "We’re all Internet entrepreneurs, so, naturally, that’s where the information will live.” We can’t wait to check it out either.