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Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman

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The best startup advice from Silicon Valley & beyond. Iconic CEOs — from Nike to Netflix, Starbucks to Slack — share the stories & strategies that helped them grow from startups into global brands.

On each episode, host Reid Hoffman — LinkedIn cofounder, Greylock partner and legendary Silicon Valley investor — proves an unconventional theory about how businesses scale, while his guests share the story of how I built this company. Reid and guests talk entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, management, fundraising. But they also talk about the human journey — with all its failures and setbacks. 

With original, cinematic music and hilariously honest stories, Masters of Scale is a business podcast that doesn’t sound like a business podcast.

Guests on Masters of Scale have included the founders and CEOs of Netflix, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, Nike, Fiat, Spotify, Instagram, Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, Huffington Post, Twitter, Medium, Bumble, Yahoo, Slack, Spanx, Shake Shack, Dropbox, TaskRabbit, 23&Me, Mailchimp, Evite, Flickr, CharityWater, Endeavor, IAC and many more.

117 Episodes
The price that bleeds your business could also save it. We're revisiting a classic episode with ClassPass' Payal Kadakia to focus something every entrepreneur struggles with: pricing. When you invent something innovative, you can’t know how to price it on Day One. But you need to get people in the door — a LOT of people — even if you have to price your product fatally low at first. In this episode, ClassPass founder and chair Payal Kadakia shares the winding path to the right price — and how the journey revealed what was most valuable about their service.Read a transcript of this interview at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Some products are vitamins and some are painkillers – the best, though, are both. This is what Clara Shih, founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems, learned in the early years of her software startup. To survive, she needed to shift her platform from a nice-to-have into a can’t-live-without. And in doing so, she learned a secret to scale: Solve your customers’ urgent needs now ... while looking ahead to their future wishlists. Cameo appearances: Shellye Archambeau (MetricStream), Gary Alexander (MyImprov driving school).Read a transcript of this interview at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
It's the opposite of what you were taught. The best entrepreneurs — they let fires burn. Knowing which problems NOT to solve is as critical as knowing how to solve them. We're revisiting this episode with serial entrepreneur Selina Tobaccowala (Evite, SurveyMonkey, TicketMaster, Gixo) to underscore the one thing every entrepreneur needs to know right now: You have to conserve energy for the biggest blazes, and learn how to sleep easy while other fires smolder around you. Cameo appearances: Cheryl Kellond (Apostrophe, Inc.), Brian Chesky (Airbnb), Lisa Curtis (Kuli Kuli), Hadi Partovi (, Jerry Chen (Greylock Partners).
How to keep students learning – and building their vital lifelong community bonds – in the middle of a pandemic? This is the question for Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College. Late in July, Dr. Campbell announced Spelman's plan for the upcoming academic year – with 100% online classes (and lower fees). Meanwhile, as the head of a leading HBCU, based in the protest hotbed of Atlanta, she's also been grappling with social unrest and calls for change. Spelman is taking this moment to experiment with how best to support virtual learning and community-building — combining emergent innovations and best-of-class design thinking — as they continue to push for equity in higher education.
How do you take smart risks, how can you be transparent – but inspiring – with your board and your team, how do you keep up morale in what seem like the darkest days, and what does the future of blitzscaling look like now? Reid answers all in another Strategy Session. This session is a little different – what you're about to hear is actually a portion of Reid’s virtual fireside chat with Linda Rottenberg, the CEO and co-founder of Endeavor, an organization that supports and invests in entrepreneurs worldwide, and especially in emerging markets. The fireside chat happened in the early Spring and you'll hear a certain amount of urgency in the questions from entrepreneurs. Then – and now – there is so much we are still learning. Reid and Linda share important, clear insight; honest answers; and encouragement. Because as Linda says: “When economies turn down, entrepreneurs turn up.”Read a transcript of this interview at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
The pandemic has hurt many businesses – but PayPal isn't one of them. PayPal has boomed as e-commerce has swelled, with stock up more than 50% this year and a huge new demographic joining the platform. That doesn't mean, though, that CEO Dan Schulman has been sitting back. PayPal recently committed more than $500 million to support Black and minority-owned businesses, after facilitating some $1.9 billion in PPP loans to largely underbanked communities. Dan says PayPal has a unique opportunity to spur emerging economic recovery – and to make a longterm impact in the fight for racial justice. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
There's no quick fix to 400 years of oppression, says Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson. One of the largest racial justice organizations in the US, Color Of Change works with decision-makers in business and government to enact systemic change. In 2020, Color Of Change has seen its membership swell — along with its impact. Rashad's group railed against Hollywood's reflexive pro-police agenda, forcing TV shows "Cops" and "Live PD" off the air, and launched the Stop Hate For Profit campaign to hold tech companies accountable for what happens on social platforms. By working together, says Rashad, we can make a lasting difference. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
To survive a crisis, you have to double down on who you already are as a company. This is something Ellen Kullman knows, having led DuPont through the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and taken the CEO role at 3D-printing unicorn Carbon only weeks before Covid hit. Through her years as a leader, Ellen has developed four crisis principles that allowed her to lead teams and thrive through pandemic, economic meltdown, and beyond. The key? Practicing the principles in calmer times, before crisis hits. Because as Reid says: there's no such thing as a crisis playbook. There's just your playbook. Cameos: Amy Shira Teitel (spaceflight historian), Jonah Peretti (BuzzFeed), Brian Chesky (Airbnb), Neil Blumenthal (Warby Parker), Stacy Brown-Philpot (TaskRabbit).Read a transcript of this interview at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
"This was like 1918, 1929 and 1968 in one week," says Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. With the pandemic, economic crisis, and civil unrest all coming together after George Floyd's death, Walker found himself flooded with calls from CEOs struggling for how to respond. Walker's advice mixes clear-eyed messages — denying the trauma borne by communities of color is no longer option — with optimism about the opportunities ahead. At the Ford Foundation, they've accelerated giving and even exceeded their own KPIs. With more leaders dedicated to making a positive impact, he says, the wind is changing, for people of color and for America. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Startups are audacious. They’re big. They’re world-changing. But you can’t achieve scale on day one. Sometimes the best way to achieve that monumental success tomorrow is to take a teeny tiny step today. This is what Charles Best did when he founded one of the world’s first crowdfunding platforms, DonorsChoose. For 20 years, the nonprofit has been helping public school teachers get funding and supplies for classroom projects and it all started with just a handful of projects in the Bronx, where Charles was a public school teacher. Now it funds thousands of projects in all 50 states, raising almost a billion dollars in the process. Charles did it by adeptly creating a flywheel that matches for donors and grantees, allowing them to connect directly with one another, and doing it all one small step at a time. Cameo: Stephen Colbert!!!Visit DonorsChoose.orgLearn more about US campaign funding laws: a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
A surprisingly candid and upbeat interview on the industry hardest hit by the pandemic. Delta saw seat bookings fall to less than 5% of normal, had 40,000 employees go on unpaid leave, and raised $14 billion in funding – all to withstand a cash burn that still stands at $30 million a day. To rebuild traveler trust, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has enacted a slew of new safety standards, including capping flight loads at 60 percent and using hospital-grade HEPA filters on board – in fact, Bastian contends there's not a safer time to be on a plane than right now. He's also sped up forward-facing company initiatives, like phasing out less-efficient planes, building out airport terminals, and installing better wifi. Bastian acknowledges there will be fewer planes in the sky in years to come, but he believes Delta will come out of the pandemic as strong and essential as ever. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Every great founder has a second purpose — something outside their main business they're trying to get done in the world. And every successful company is like a Trojan Horse, carrying this second purpose forward. No one knows this better than Robert F. Smith. You may know him for his legendary Morehouse commencement speech (in which he promised to pay off the student loan debt of the entire graduating class), but Robert's scaling success and philanthropic work go far beyond that. As founder, chair, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert finds profound ways to serve both his business and his second purpose — liberating people to reach their true potential — at scale. Recorded live at Summit LA 2019.
What can your business do right now in the struggle against racism? More than you think, says Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream, now a board member at Verizon, Nordstrom and Okta. She returns to the show with her all-too-rare perspective as a Black woman at the top of some of the world’s largest businesses. The struggle is a marathon, but businesses are uniquely poised to demand accountability and transparency from their communities. Whether you're a CEO or a citizen, Shellye has heartfelt and hard-earned wisdom for us all. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Learn more about Shellye’s upcoming book Unapologetically Ambitious at unapologeticallyshellye.comFollow Shellye on Twitter at: a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Forget writing that business plan. Design an experiment instead. So many products and companies fail because the assumptions in their beautiful business plans were just wrong. So stop writing and start testing. No one knows this better than Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup and founder of the Long-Term Stock Exchange. After his first product failed, he developed a new method of product design based on running small, fast experiments, measuring the results, and learning from them. It’s a system built on data, not assumptions, and it works with almost everything, from app development to airplane design. It starts with establishing your own measure of success — then experimenting, improving, and trying over and over again. The feedback loop never stops.Learn more about the Long Term Stock Exchange: ltse.comLearn more about The Lean Startup: leanstartup.coRead Eric’s blog, Startup Lessons Learned: startuplessonslearned.comListen to Eric’s new podcast, Out of the Crisis, on Apple Podcasts: a transcript of the episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter:
GM is now reopening auto plants, after shutting them in March, temporarily reducing pay for 69,000 employees, and making a fast pivot to produce masks and ventilators. But with the killing of George Floyd, things are hardly back to normal. Chair and CEO Mary Barra speaks to her “profound feeling of sadness,” but also to her optimism that the country and her company will bounce back. Though there is work to be done, says Mary, we're poised for transformation. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
How do you find new markets when your old ones stall? How do you stay agile when your team is overwhelmed? And do constraints always lead to creativity — really? In this Strategy Session recorded in the height of the global pandemic, Reid fields smart questions from six entrepreneurs with Village Global, and co-hosted by our own Bob Safian.Village Global is an early-stage venture capital firm backed by some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.Read a transcript of this Strategy Session at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
BuzzFeed audience is at record highs. But the pandemic's economic effects have crushed the bottom line. BuzzFeed co-founder and CEO Jonah Peretti shares how his company is making hard decisions to build long-term stability. “But the transition is painful,” he says. While BuzzFeed is leaning into food vertical Tasty, new e-commerce habits, and BuzzFeed News, he worries that businesses like his don't have more resources to support staffers of color. But, he says, there's a clarity of purpose in crisis, in bearing witness to the things that are happening in the world. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
New graduates 🎓are like entrepreneurs — standing on the edge of that cliff, ready to build their own plane and fly. But what if the blue skies and calm winds disappear? In a commencement speech for 2020 graduates — and anyone embarking on something new — our host Reid Hoffman says: Be optimistic. Be bold. But most of all, steer toward the opportunities emerging in this new world. How do you find them? Cultivate a network of people smart, curious people. This network creates a map of the world. And at uncertain times like these, you’ll definitely need that map.
"Being the first to close is one thing. But I don't want to be the last to open,” says iconic restaurateur Danny Meyer in his second Rapid Response interview. After shutting his iconic New York City restaurants, laying off 2,000 staffers (with hopes to re-hire) and returning a $10m PPP, Danny finds himself reconsidering nearly everything about his business model. Even before the coronavirus lockdown, the restaurant industry had a slew of “preexisting conditions,” Danny says. Now those weaknesses have become exposed, putting at risk the future of hospitality — one of America’s core industries. Danny’s Union Square Hospitality Group is reimagining what and HOW their restaurants serve; rethinking how they generate revenue; and exploring new cost structures, like a bold new relationship with landlords. It’s all in the hopes, says Danny, of getting back to business, with customers safely at their tables, and the teams back together. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Since One Medical’s IPO in January, CEO Amir Rubin has been forced to constantly adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, as healthcare needs, expectations, and behaviors shifted. From telemedicine to Covid-19 testing, One Medical has leaned into existing advantages to scale quickly: standing up respiratory care clinics and testing centers; revamping virtual and in-person visits; vetting labs and data. One Medical is now helping other businesses identify new practices to safely bring employees back to work. If you have a consistent platform and mission, explains Amir, that operating system can be applied to even fast-changing environments. Interviewed by editor Bob Safian.Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Comments (106)



Aug 1st


this is very insightful. thank you

Jul 19th

jordan thielman

The commercials of this episode were better than the content.

Jun 30th

Jordyn K

w3 w 2

Jun 16th

Mack Bawden

Reid! You said my name wrong but I still very much appreciate the shout-out! Let me know next time you're in Salt Lake or at Sundance and want to come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit. Thanks for being such a great mentor!

Jun 14th

Mack Bawden

Reid you said my name wrong! it's Mack! But I so appreciate the shout-out. Come push a wheelchair with my nonprofit the next time you are in Salt Lake, or at Sundance for that retreat you do!

Jun 14th


Pretty disingenuous to report this as if Buzzfeed is dying from anything other than crap partisan journalism written by 19 year olds and marketed to 25 year olds for a decade. This site was cancer and so was everyone else attached to it, including this podcast for even considering that there might be another reason for its failure.

Jun 10th

seyed hesameddin beheshti shirazi


Jun 6th

Regina Burkhart Graham

Love love love Verizon! Amazing job, always, and especially during this pandemic!

May 21st

Martin Shaw

Where is part 2?

May 17th

Celia Fauth

kz j no w not uu manipulation

May 15th

Celia Fauth


May 15th

Abeye Duguma

Brilliant! Very informative... wish it were longer... deserves another invite Bob. Thank you Sara.

May 9th

JJ Burnam

Nancy ... you're not in the catastrophe business, you're in the healing business, a worthy growth industry.

May 1st

Calvin Kim

what a loveably cringy and hilarious intro 😂

Apr 28th

Sachin Garg

one of great interview. thanks for this

Apr 21st

Kris Moe

I hope the tides change to honor the worker. They've been unrepresented for too long and this pandemic may help us see the value of their work.

Apr 3rd

Mack Bawden

I consider Reid a personal mentor from this podcast. I'm very inspired by the leader interviewed, she's very reassuring and trustworthy. This episode was a little sloppy with pings and background noise.

Apr 3rd

Nicolas Andre Guaiquin

omg! so annoying the music. I see a lot of work being put on this podcast, but I only wanted to listen the interview. Sorry, but a 20min interview turned in what? 1hr 1/2. I think they would do and amazing job creating material for kids, but for me it was way too much.

Mar 24th

chaitanya mehta

would be pretty cool if Reid didn't speak at all so that we could listen to the speaker. Feels like the speaker has a colouring book with boundaries that he needs to fill colour in!

Mar 15th
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