Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and partner at Greylock Partners, yesterday announced that he will give $1 million to support entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School and across the University of Oxford. In addition to the generous monetary gift, Hoffman will also serve as senior advisor at “The Oxford Foundry,” a new dramatically increased space for entrepreneurship designed to serve not only Saïd but the larger university and the local community. In this role, Hoffman will give his time and advice to help start and scale new ventures.
Hoffman made the announcement as part of a Distinguished Speaker Seminar, in which he and Saïd Dean Peter Tufano discussed topics ranging from entrepreneurship and blitzscaling to trends in technology and career trajectories in the modern world. An audience of more than 500 students and entrepreneurs turned out to hear what they had to say and pose their own questions.
Entrepreneurship is not new at Saïd, of course. Most recently it has been supported by the Launchpad, a 100-square-meter space that has attracted nearly two thousand members since its founding two years ago. Tufano announced that the Oxford Foundry is intended to maintain the Launchpad’s spirit of pan-university collaboration while offering more events, programming and business support to engage more entrepreneurial students and local community members.
“The Launchpad at Oxford Saïd has proven to be a phenomenal success since it opened in 2014, and has been a hothouse for entrepreneurial ideas that will transform businesses, communities and the world,” Tufano said. “Our research at Oxford Saïd suggests that we need to not only start enterprises, but scale them. Reid’s work on ‘blitzscaling’ develops this idea even further. We need to follow our own advice and dramatically scale up our support for student entrepreneurs, making the network deeper and richer.”
These plans to “go big,” continued Tufano, require both financial support and expert guidance—which make Reid’s contributions invaluable. “His visionary founding gift is a challenge grant that can match other donors to the Foundry,” Tufano noted. “His kind willingness to serve as senior advisor provides us with the wisdom of someone who has started, and invested in, some of the most iconic businesses in the world today, including LinkedIn.”
The Oxford Foundry will be located outside the current Oxford Saïd premises, a reflection of the fact that it will be open to all. When complete, it will provide facilities for co-working, meeting and networking and presentation areas for lectures and conferences.
“From my experience in Silicon Valley, I’ve learned that the ecosystems that most strongly support entrepreneurship are those that truly understand and harness the power of networks—for talent, capital and ideas,” Hoffman said. “The Foundry will be a hub for Oxford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to advance ground-breaking new ideas, prototype and experiment, connect to funders and to build strong transformative ventures and that will impact the world in positive ways.”
As for Hoffman’s interest in Oxford, it dates back to his time there as a graduate student. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University and was a Marshall Scholar there.
The Oxford Foundry will pick up and continue the programs, events and funding competitions established by the staff and faculty at the Launchpad. Among these are the Building a Business Lecture Series, the student-led Oxford Seed Fund competition and the Oxford Venture Idea Exploration Workshop (VIEW). This school also this year will launch a new Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum (OSEF)—an intensive, immersive one-day event further cementing entrepreneurial thinking within the makeup of the University of Oxford.
View the conversation between Reid Hoffman and Dean Tufano announcing the new Oxford Foundry: