Exclusive - Reid Hoffman Extended Interview

September 28, 2016 - Reid Hoffman 09/28/2016 Views: 5,996

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman argues that Donald Trump's questionable business decisions render him unfit for the presidency and talks about his game "Trumped Up Cards." (9:24)

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Please welcome Reid Hoffman.

(applause and cheering)

-Welcome to the show.-Great to be here.

Uh... first things first--stop spamming my inbox.

-(laughter)-That's your friends doing that.

-That's my friends?-Yes.

Those are not my friends.Those are my enemies. Yes.

-Well, they like you anyway.-That's what they are.

Welcome to the show.Thank you for being here.

Uh, I'm trying to think.

I don't knowif I've her had a chat

with, like,a legit billionaire before.

First things first.

Where do you guys buythose T-shirts?

You know, the ones that allthe billionaires seem to have.

It looks likea plain grey T-shirt,

but it's like a billionaireT-shirt. -(laughter)

-Well, there's a secret club.-Yeah.

And, you know, I'll try to see

if I can free up oneor two for you. -Oh, thank you.

-Yeah. -Do I haveto have the money first,

-or do you... can you just,like...? -No, no, no.

-You can just hook me up.-Yeah. Yes.

-All right. I like that.-Yeah.

I like that.Welcome to the show.

-A pleasure to be here. -Thankyou very much for being here.

It's strange because you're nothere to talk about LinkedIn.

You're not on the road

talking to peopleabout your products at all.

You are on the roadencouraging people

to not vote for Donald Trump.Why?

Well, "on the road" todayis not, uh...

is-is-is... is partial...

it's essentially this.

There is a, uh,good candidate for president

who has spent years preparing,who has the skills to do this.

-Yes. -There's another one who'sa reality television star show.

-Uh-huh. -Right.That makes great television,

makes great entertainment--is not great for governance.

And so I thinkit's really important

that we as a countrymake the right decision,

and enough so thatthis is the first time

I've actually reallyever spoken up politically.

But, now, here's my thing.Donald Trump is gonna cut taxes

to 15% for businesses.

You're gonna make more money.

He's gonna make deals with you.

You can bring all your moneyback from overseas

if you have money overseas,

and you're gonna bring jobs in,and you're gonna get so rich,

you're gonna be winning.I'm quoting, by the way.

-(laughter)-Yes, I hear the quotes.

And Hillary is gonna raise taxeson the wealthy.

You are the super-wealthy.

So why aren't yousupporting Trump?

Well... look,in order to have good business,

you actually have to havegood global relations,

you have to have good relationswith other countries,

you have to havea stable policy,

you haveto have people believing

that they can investin the future.

You actually want to have, uh,like, a whole nation of...

of capable labor forceand everything else.

-Yeah. -You want to havea healthy society.

All of those things are partof this greater society

that we have been makingfor decades...

-maybe even, you know,hundreds of years. -Yeah.

Two. Right. And, uh...

I think that's really animportant tradition to continue.

It's not about slogans.

It's not about, uh,making vague promises

that you have no policies for.

It's not about insulting people.

It's not about, like--the list goes on and on.

And that's what'sactually good for business.

The tax rateis not the question.

A healthy society is.

Okay, let me ask you this.

Donald Trump is runningon one major platform,

and that is:I'm not a politician,

I don't want that experience,I'm an outsider,

but most importantly,I'm a businessman,

I'm the man of business.

Right?

And he says, I know what to doto make America like a business.

-You're a businessman.-Yeah.

-You're a real billionaire.-Yes.

-When you look at Trump...-(laughter)

Well, 'cause I don't reallybelieve he has billions.

Like, when you look atDonald Trump,

as a billionaireand as a businessman,

do you go,"Oh, yeah, that's my dude"?

Or do you think somethingcompletely different?

Well, obviously,something completely different.

I think what, uh,Mayor Bloomberg said

-at the DemocraticNational Convention, -Yes.

which is, "He wants to run thecountry like his business,

God help us."

I think that's actually,in fact, the right angle.

And, you know,if you look at...

Like, I've-I've actuallytalked to people

he's done business with.

You know, lawsuits, breakages,not keeping his word,

-not paying his suppliers.-Yes.

That's not good business, right?

-Bankruptcies,that's not good business. -Yeah.

Off-loading that debtto the public,

and saying, "Here, you guystake the pain for this."

That's not good business.

That's not what makesa good businessman.

What makes a good businessman issomeone who constructs something

that essentially has a growing,healthy role within society.

And those are the kinds of-ofbusinesses that we aspire to.

Now, now you-you decided to putyour money where your mouth is.

-You issued a challenge--was it $5 million? -Yes.

You said you will give$5 million

to a veteran's charity if DonaldTrump releases his tax returns.

-I found a, um, a crowd-fundingsite called Crowdpac, -Yeah.

um, that, uh, actually,I know about the site.

I found a, uh, a campaign on it

-from a former marinein Iraq, who said, -Yes.

"Look, we have served.We have given, you know, risk,

"and life and limb, so,

"you should do so if you wantto serve as well.

"You should be transparent,open about your taxes.

So I'm gonna raiseup to $1 million

as a challenge grant.

I thought this was a great idea,so I said, okay.

I will 5X match this, right?

And, actually, frankly,I don't even need to match it.

If he releases allof his income taxes,

the way that presidentialcandidates should--

they should be open,they should be transparent,

they should be tryingto serve the country--

I will donate the $5 millionto the charities

that Pete Kiernanhas identified.

So what you're saying is...

(cheering and applause)

Oh, it's... it's nice...

it's nice to applaud,but what you're saying

is you're notgonna donate any money.

'Cause Donald Trump'snot gonna hand in those returns.

It's such a... it's sucha strange situation to be in,

because you're putting yourmoney where your mouth is.

Uh, you-you have the money,

you're inthe business community.

There's something interestingthat you-that you said:

you said that businesspeopledon't come out

and speak about this.

Why not?

Well, there's two reasons.One is kind of the classic,

which is we try to be inclusive.

Employees, shareholders,you say, "Look, we don't

try to say we're Republican,Democrat, anything else."

And that's reasonable.

Uh, the second,in this particular case,

is that people...He is so...

He does so many attacks,he's so vengeful.

If you look at the historyof lawsuits and personal attacks

-and all the restof the thing... -Yes.

People are fearful that if heactually gets into office

he will single them outand target them.

-He will be vengeful in hisown personal mission... -Yes.

against anyonewho spoke up against him,

which is a fear of,you know, kind of,

uh, power, dictatorship, right?

-Abuse of power.-Uh-huh.

Those things are important.And that's when, I think,

that even if you say,"Look, I am, generally speaking,

much more cautiousabout politics,"

-it's a time to step up.-Yeah, here's a question

I have for you, as somebodywho works in-in Silicon Valley,

someone who has a lot of money,someone who's working

in a very successful field:Donald Trump claims

that as a businessman,the reason he tries to pay

as little tax as possible--if, maybe no federal taxes--

is because, uh, the governmentis gonna waste it.

And because he is doing

what he does because he's smart.

So, you're in-you'rein the-the private space--

would you argue that you coulddo better things with the money

than the government can? Is-isthere an argument on that side?

Well, I mean,I think that there's

lots of places in governmentwhich are great:

police, fire, you know,Medicare, Social Security.

-There's a bunch of thingsthat are super important. -Yes.

And those are thingsthat we should all

feel our responsibilitiesand honor,

-as American citizens,to pay our taxes. -Uh-huh.

Claiming that it's not smartto be contributing

to the American system,especially when

-you're seeking to lead it, issimply terrible, right? -Yeah.

So, now, are there clearly areaswhere government and bureaucracy

gets ineffective? And you say,"Well, I can actually...

On those areas, I know how toallocate capital better." Sure.

But that's a natural partof what happens

in a government system,when we try to create

an education system for allof us, when we try to create

a medical system for all of us.That's a natural part of it.

And we should try to fix it,but we still need

to have those systems.That's-that's what gives us

the societythat we're all part of.

You-You're having a lot of funwith this as well.

You've got a-a little gamethat you made

and, really, for no reasonother than to mess with Trump.

It's called Trumped Up Cards,

and it's a game of just dissingTrump, basically.

Why-why would you do this?

-Well... -'Cause you realize,if he becomes president,

-you're dead.-(laughing): Yes.

I am aware of that. Uh,I first made it for friends,

-uh, 'cause I thought it wouldbe hilarious, right? -Yeah.

It's a little bit, actually,you know, inspired by, you know,

-your show and, like...-Oh, don't involve me.

-No, no, no. No, no, no.-Hey. (laughs)

-That's why I came. -You carryon. No, you carry on. Yeah.

I'm just gonna hide behind you.You know how this works, right?

And so, uh...so we made it for friends

and we-we're distributing itaround

and-and we started getting--even from among

my Republican friends-- saying,"Look, this is really hilarious.

You should make this availableto other people."

And we had a bunch of...We had a long talk about it,

because... Like, "Oh, well,will he be vengeful?

-Will he respond?"That kind of thing. -Yes.

You know, and it was like,"Well, look, it's important

"for people to be consideredand informed.

"And if we're gonna haveour own election

-"that's essentially a realitytelevision show circus, -Yeah.

an appropriate productshould go along with it."

-Yes. And so that's why youdesigned it. -Right? So... Yes.

And then, uh, all the proceedsare going to...

Oh, uh, some charities.Uh, we're in the process

of working it out.We may do it democratically.

-Like, we may do some votes.It's... -Like people

just choosing where it goes to,but you're not keeping any

-of that money. -No. I-I'm notgonna make a single dime

-of profit on it. -Well, I mean,you're a billionaire.

-You shouldn't. -Yeah.(chuckles) My thought, too.

I appreciate that. Thank youso much for being on the show.

-Thank you.-To purchase Trumped Up Cards,

go to TrumpedUpCards.com.Reid Hoffman, everyone.