Finance

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice
Image credit: Bloomberg TV
Reid Hoffman
This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Reid Hoffman and LinkedIn recently published their Series B pitch deck from 2004.

It's from early in the company's history, before it was generating any revenue.

Now, LinkedIn is a publicly traded company that's worth billions.

The deck is full of invaluable advice and commentary from Hoffman, who reveals exactly how today's entrepreneurs should be pitching investors and what the investing climate was like when LinkedIn was still getting off the ground.

We pulled together the slides and some of Hoffman's best words of wisdom explaining the pitch deck.
 

Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"In 2004, the consumer Internet was just beginning to rebound," writes Hoffman. "We had no revenue...Investors see a lot of pitches. First, understand your audience. Research prospective investors thoroughly. Second, understand the broader financing climate."

"In 2004, the consumer Internet was just beginning to rebound," writes Hoffman. "We had no revenue...Investors see a lot of pitches. First, understand your audience. Research prospective investors thoroughly. Second, understand the broader financing climate."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Open with your investment thesis, what prospective investors must believe in order to want to be shareholders of your company," says Hoffman.

"Open with your investment thesis, what prospective investors must believe in order to want to be shareholders of your company," says Hoffman.
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"The general rule is one business model drives the business. It's tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you're trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer Internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag."

"The general rule is one business model drives the business. It's tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you're trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer Internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Steer into your investors' objections. There will be one to three issues that are potentially problematic for your financing -- address them head on."

"Steer into your investors' objections. There will be one to three issues that are potentially problematic for your financing -- address them head on."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Show, don't tell. Again, your pitching goals are to increase investors' confidence in your investment thesis and lead them to a shared view of your company's problems."

"Show, don't tell. Again, your pitching goals are to increase investors' confidence in your investment thesis and lead them to a shared view of your company's problems."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"In the early days, you want to use analogies to successful outcomes to describe what your company is and what its potential could be."

"In the early days, you want to use analogies to successful outcomes to describe what your company is and what its potential could be."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Understand where analogies apply and where they do not. Pitch by analogy but don't necessarily reason by analogy."

"Understand where analogies apply and where they do not. Pitch by analogy but don't necessarily reason by analogy."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"When pitching by analogy, anchor your business to other valuable businesses to signal that your business will be valuable, too."

"When pitching by analogy, anchor your business to other valuable businesses to signal that your business will be valuable, too."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"It's better to have no analogy than a bad one."

"It's better to have no analogy than a bad one."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Any good idea has legitimate reasons why it won't work. In order to achieve real success, you need to be contrarian and right."

"Any good idea has legitimate reasons why it won't work. In order to achieve real success, you need to be contrarian and right."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching?"

"Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching?"
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"LinkedIn's Series B was a concept pitch because our data at that point wasn't impressive."

"LinkedIn's Series B was a concept pitch because our data at that point wasn't impressive."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"One ingredient this pitch lacks, which I now think is essential to modern pitches, is our risk factors. Experienced investors know there are always risks."

"One ingredient this pitch lacks, which I now think is essential to modern pitches, is our risk factors. Experienced investors know there are always risks."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Explicitly identify the risks that could thwart your success and how you will mitigate them. And instead of waiting until investors ask about your risks, share them proactively so you build trust."

"Explicitly identify the risks that could thwart your success and how you will mitigate them. And instead of waiting until investors ask about your risks, share them proactively so you build trust."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Express your competitive advantage."

"Express your competitive advantage."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"This is mostly a mistake slide because customer slides are more appropriate for enterprise pitches."

"This is mostly a mistake slide because customer slides are more appropriate for enterprise pitches."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"You want to show focus in your decks by emphasizing what you're really betting on. However, show some maneuverability."

"You want to show focus in your decks by emphasizing what you're really betting on. However, show some maneuverability."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"It's always better to have less slides, but it's much more important to have a great deck. A great deck needs to address all important concerns and tell your story effectively."

"It's always better to have less slides, but it's much more important to have a great deck. A great deck needs to address all important concerns and tell your story effectively."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"When pitching VCs, think about the individual partner in the context of their partnership."

"When pitching VCs, think about the individual partner in the context of their partnership."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"People frequently think the most fundamental strategy of a startup is its product strategy. In fact, the most fundamental strategy is the financing strategy."

"People frequently think the most fundamental strategy of a startup is its product strategy. In fact, the most fundamental strategy is the financing strategy."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Always think about the next round. The usual tempo for raising money from venture capital is at a minimum of a year between financings."

"Always think about the next round. The usual tempo for raising money from venture capital is at a minimum of a year between financings."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Reinforce key concepts when delivering a concept pitch...It's helpful (but not mandatory) to put your thesis in each of the titles."

"Reinforce key concepts when delivering a concept pitch...It's helpful (but not mandatory) to put your thesis in each of the titles."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Show a focus on bottom-up tactics for your strategy."

"Show a focus on bottom-up tactics for your strategy."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Show your product rather than saying you intend to build a best-of-breed product."

"Show your product rather than saying you intend to build a best-of-breed product."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"When in doubt, lead with what will make the most sense to investors."

"When in doubt, lead with what will make the most sense to investors."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"It's more important to have the right person say yes than it is to have everyone say yes...How do you know if an investor will add value? Pay attention to whether they are being constructive during the financing process."

"It's more important to have the right person say yes than it is to have everyone say yes...How do you know if an investor will add value? Pay attention to whether they are being constructive during the financing process."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Internal data is preferable over anecdotal third party data...Also, be wary of confirmation bias. It's only natural that an entrepreneur wants to hear that their idea is great, but you don't want people telling you that because it doesn't help you."

"Internal data is preferable over anecdotal third party data...Also, be wary of confirmation bias. It's only natural that an entrepreneur wants to hear that their idea is great, but you don't want people telling you that because it doesn't help you."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Take competition against your potential revenue streams seriously" and "identify the right metrics for success."

"Take competition against your potential revenue streams seriously" and "identify the right metrics for success."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Underpromise and overdeliver...Also show you're paying attention to the market."

"Underpromise and overdeliver...Also show you're paying attention to the market."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"One of the virtues that entrepreneurs get from talking to many investors during the financing process is a wisdom of crowds that helps you figure out what the real risks are."

"One of the virtues that entrepreneurs get from talking to many investors during the financing process is a wisdom of crowds that helps you figure out what the real risks are."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Be decisive and ship...While it's important to think carefully about your future, don't think too far into the future."

"Be decisive and ship...While it's important to think carefully about your future, don't think too far into the future."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs."

"Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Have reasonable numbers and assumptions that can pass the blink test during the pitch."

"Have reasonable numbers and assumptions that can pass the blink test during the pitch."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"A successful financing process obviously results in you raising capital for your company, but it also results in a partnership that delivers benefits beyond just money."

"A successful financing process obviously results in you raising capital for your company, but it also results in a partnership that delivers benefits beyond just money."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"You have the most attention from investors in the first 60 seconds of your pitch, so how you begin is incredibly important. One common mistake is putting the team slide early in the deck."

"You have the most attention from investors in the first 60 seconds of your pitch, so how you begin is incredibly important. One common mistake is putting the team slide early in the deck."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"Approach your likely investors and your ideal investors at the same time, because your likely investors provide a temporal forcing function by which you might end up with your ideal investors."

"Approach your likely investors and your ideal investors at the same time, because your likely investors provide a temporal forcing function by which you might end up with your ideal investors."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"It's okay to be hyperbolic, to be aggressive, to be visionary."

"It's okay to be hyperbolic, to be aggressive, to be visionary."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"You should end on a slide that you want people to be paying attention to."

"You should end on a slide that you want people to be paying attention to."
Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice

"You don't have to have an appendix, but if you anticipate serious questions from the kinds of investors you want, preparing appendix slides with structured answers is impressive."

"You don't have to have an appendix, but if you anticipate serious questions from the kinds of investors you want, preparing appendix slides with structured answers is impressive."
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  • Billionaire Reid Hoffman Reveals LinkedIn's 2004 Pitch Deck Along With Invaluable Startup Advice
  • 1. "In 2004, the consumer Internet was just beginning to rebound," writes Hoffman. "We had no revenue...Investors see a lot of pitches. First, understand your audience. Research prospective investors thoroughly. Second, understand the broader financing climate."
  • 2. "Open with your investment thesis, what prospective investors must believe in order to want to be shareholders of your company," says Hoffman.
  • 3. "The general rule is one business model drives the business. It's tempting to list multiple revenue streams because you're trying to prove that you will be big. Yet when consumer Internet companies do this, investors generally see a red flag."
  • 4. "Steer into your investors' objections. There will be one to three issues that are potentially problematic for your financing -- address them head on."
  • 5. "Show, don't tell. Again, your pitching goals are to increase investors' confidence in your investment thesis and lead them to a shared view of your company's problems."
  • 6. "In the early days, you want to use analogies to successful outcomes to describe what your company is and what its potential could be."
  • 7. "Understand where analogies apply and where they do not. Pitch by analogy but don't necessarily reason by analogy."
  • 8. "When pitching by analogy, anchor your business to other valuable businesses to signal that your business will be valuable, too."
  • 9. "It's better to have no analogy than a bad one."
  • 10. "Any good idea has legitimate reasons why it won't work. In order to achieve real success, you need to be contrarian and right."
  • 11. "Your investment thesis is either concept-driven or data-driven. Which kind you are pitching?"
  • 12. "LinkedIn's Series B was a concept pitch because our data at that point wasn't impressive."
  • 13. "One ingredient this pitch lacks, which I now think is essential to modern pitches, is our risk factors. Experienced investors know there are always risks."
  • 14. "Explicitly identify the risks that could thwart your success and how you will mitigate them. And instead of waiting until investors ask about your risks, share them proactively so you build trust."
  • 15. "Express your competitive advantage."
  • 16. "This is mostly a mistake slide because customer slides are more appropriate for enterprise pitches."
  • 17. "You want to show focus in your decks by emphasizing what you're really betting on. However, show some maneuverability."
  • 18. "It's always better to have less slides, but it's much more important to have a great deck. A great deck needs to address all important concerns and tell your story effectively."
  • 19. "When pitching VCs, think about the individual partner in the context of their partnership."
  • 20. "People frequently think the most fundamental strategy of a startup is its product strategy. In fact, the most fundamental strategy is the financing strategy."
  • 21. "Always think about the next round. The usual tempo for raising money from venture capital is at a minimum of a year between financings."
  • 22. "Reinforce key concepts when delivering a concept pitch...It's helpful (but not mandatory) to put your thesis in each of the titles."
  • 23. "Show a focus on bottom-up tactics for your strategy."
  • 24. "Show your product rather than saying you intend to build a best-of-breed product."
  • 25. "When in doubt, lead with what will make the most sense to investors."
  • 26. "It's more important to have the right person say yes than it is to have everyone say yes...How do you know if an investor will add value? Pay attention to whether they are being constructive during the financing process."
  • 27. "Internal data is preferable over anecdotal third party data...Also, be wary of confirmation bias. It's only natural that an entrepreneur wants to hear that their idea is great, but you don't want people telling you that because it doesn't help you."
  • 28. "Take competition against your potential revenue streams seriously" and "identify the right metrics for success."
  • 29. "Underpromise and overdeliver...Also show you're paying attention to the market."
  • 30. "One of the virtues that entrepreneurs get from talking to many investors during the financing process is a wisdom of crowds that helps you figure out what the real risks are."
  • 31. "Be decisive and ship...While it's important to think carefully about your future, don't think too far into the future."
  • 32. "Be wary of adjectives and especially adverbs."
  • 33. "Have reasonable numbers and assumptions that can pass the blink test during the pitch."
  • 34. "A successful financing process obviously results in you raising capital for your company, but it also results in a partnership that delivers benefits beyond just money."
  • 35. "You have the most attention from investors in the first 60 seconds of your pitch, so how you begin is incredibly important. One common mistake is putting the team slide early in the deck."
  • 36. "Approach your likely investors and your ideal investors at the same time, because your likely investors provide a temporal forcing function by which you might end up with your ideal investors."
  • 37. "It's okay to be hyperbolic, to be aggressive, to be visionary."
  • 38. "You should end on a slide that you want people to be paying attention to."
  • 39. "You don't have to have an appendix, but if you anticipate serious questions from the kinds of investors you want, preparing appendix slides with structured answers is impressive."
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