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Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman
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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.

132 Episodes
Internet pioneer Caterina Fake knows: Online communities are built one human connection at a time. As the founder, you need to establish guidelines and norms from Day One – because the tone you set is the tone you’re going to keep, even as you go viral.
95% of your business disappears. What do you do? Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson recounts how the travel industry drastically changed last spring, with hotel bookings all but disappearing overnight. In the midst of his own battle with cancer, Arne has spent the year balancing the needs of his workforce against those of his partners; having blunt but critical conversations; and empowering his team to make tough decisions. He has wise words about the role of business leaders in times of social unrest, including how to think about who you speak for – and when to speak up. Arne admits the hotel industry will take years to recover. That hasn't dimmed his personal belief that travel matters more than ever.
A social network that limits your network? Yes. Meet Nextdoor, a hyperlocal social network that’s all about who you really are and where you really live. Although it goes against everything that we've come to expect from social networks, Nextdoor’s secret to scale lies in real personal connections based on empathy and kindness. And this is what Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar knows: No, these connections don’t scale as fast – but they tend to be stronger. And they can be the flywheel that drives you to scale. 
As big movie chains shut down, Shelli Taylor's determined to keep her theaters open. With revenue at a trickle, the CEO of Alamo Drafthouse is negotiating daily with landlords and banks, and even tried her own video-on-demand service. Her balancing act – a conviction that long-term demand will be strong, while near-term economics are dismal – is familiar among entrepreneurial leaders. By defiantly keeping the movie magic alive, she's leaning into hope, the human need for community, and a creative new model. Yet there's no guarantee how this story will end.
What's more important than product-market fit? Product-VALUE fit. If you choose the right values to drive product development, you'll draw the people, resources, and speed you need. It’s true for for-profits and for nonprofits. And Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales knows this well. Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has famously stuck to its values of openness, neutrality, and remaining not-for-profit. But he arrived at those precise values through trial and error – on an earlier free encyclopedia project that stalled. Once he found the right product-value fit, Wikipedia rapidly scaled from a niche side project to one of the most valued treasures on the internet.
To safely re-open a business, you need more than masks. Covid testing is key – and the options are changing quickly. We found the most in-the-know person in public health to walk us through the choices, costs, and protocols to keep an entrepreneurial team, and all of us, safe. Rajiv Shah is president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which has led response to health crises in the United States and around the world for 100 years (including the 1918 flu pandemic). Applying what he learned fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Shah has brought together business, government, and health officials to turbo-charge Covid testing development. Next-gen test kits are coming soon: cheaper, easier, more abundant. If deployed correctly, says Shah, they can make us all safer and healthier in 2021.
When you scale at warp speed, it’s easy to lose your bearings. You have to establish your company’s true north, or the dizzying pace of growth will push you off course. No one knows this better than Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube. Under her leadership, YouTube has grown to be the world’s largest video platform. And in her previous role at Google, she was a chief architect of its advertising and analytics model. In both roles, she achieved massive scale – and grappled with massive challenges. Susan shares the guiding principles that help them stay the course – as well as stories from Google’s early years that you’ll hear first here. Cameo appearances: Dr. Becky Smethurst (astrophysicist, Oxford), Shishir Mehrotra (Coda, Google, YouTube).
The pandemic, social unrest, the U.S. election – everything affects your team and your business. And the stakes are only getting higher. How do you address race and diversity? Should your business take a stand in the upcoming election? What role should your company play? If you're debating how political to get right now, this is your must-listen. We're talking with writer / thinker Baratunde Thurston on how companies can show up as citizens – citizens with the potential for outsize impact. Baratunde is host of the podcast "How to Citizen with Baratunde", and an advisor to business leaders through these times.
You might not know Trevor McFedries yet, but if you're on Instagram, you've probably met Miquela. She has millions of followers, hit singles and lucrative contracts with brands. But she’s not actually real. Miquela’s the creation of Trevor’s stealthy creative media studio Brud, and the delicate balance they strike between artificial and authentic is a master class for any scaling company. In this first-ever in-depth interview with Trevor, he shares his bold plan to create celebrity at massive, multilingual scale; his advice for entrepreneurs of color as they fundraise; and his guidance for anyone connecting at scale: That once you build that connection with your audience, they don't care HOW you made it. All they care about is how it makes them feel. Cameo: Alison Darcy (Woebot).
Is your office safe to re-open? How much space do you need? Is remote-work really more productive? Diane Hoskins is co-CEO of architecture firm Gensler, which advises businesses from Google to Bank of America. With the pandemic, Hoskins explains, now is a critical moment to ask important questions about what your team needs to work smarter and successfully, and to build a physical space that is not just healthy but enables both collaboration and individual work. From new technology tools to insightful data, Hoskins shares insights that help us move toward the answers we need.Read the full survey from Gensler: a transcript of this episode: soon: Season 7 of Masters of Scale! Our new season begins Sept. 29.
"Until this problem gets fixed, all the other things that I care about, that you care about, are on hold.” In this must-hear interview, Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO (and now co-founder of Schmidt Futures) shares why he's 100% focused on addressing the challenges of Covid-19. From vaccines and testing protocols to best practices for businesses, Schmidt shares a clear-eyed roadmap for moving toward a healthy, just, and economically vibrant post-pandemic world.Listen to the "Reimagine" podcast: https://www.reimaginepod.orgDownload the transcript for this episode:
The first day of school doesn't look the way it used to – in some cases, it might not be happening at all. As schools across the country start a new year, we're kicking off a new season with Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, a charter school network that serves 20,000 kids across New York City. In the spring, Success Academy pivoted to remote learning days before the City shut down schools and as they start a new semester, Success Academy is pivoting to "Remote Learning 2.0." Though Eva runs charter schools, any leader or entrepreneur can learn from her experience: how and when to make decisions in an uncertain environment, how and why to communicate with constituents, why to celebrate remote work – and who we should all prioritize.
Casual fans come and go. But converts stick with you – and spread the word. The trick is knowing how – and WHEN – to convert skeptics into super-fans. No one knows this better than Peloton co-founder and CEO John Foley, who has one of the most epic “No-to-Yes” stories in startup history. When he founded the company in 2012, skeptics abounded – especially among investors. But John pushed forward, convincing co-founders, angel investors, and then riders, one at a time. As he converted those skeptical customers – in their flagship fitness studio, in their stores, and on their at-home bikes – the feedback loops kicked in. After pedaling in place for years, Peloton rocketed up the hill to its 2019 IPO. Cameo appearances: Melanie Curtis (professional skydiver).Read a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
You need more than a good product to scale – you need strong rituals. All companies have rituals, from holding all-hands meetings to measuring KPIs. The right rituals in the right places help build your culture, cohere your team, and home in on your targets. The wrong ones can lead you horribly astray. Shishir Mehrotra, former head of YouTube and co-founder of Coda, learned this when he scaled YouTube to a billion hours of watch time each day. He kept the team focused on that audacious goal by establishing fresh new rituals. And in his new role as CEO and founder of Coda, he's learned to constantly ask: What old rituals are holding us back? And what new rituals can we create together that will be inclusive, empowering — and keep us all moving forward? Cameo appearances: George Kembel (Stanford's d.School), Tobi Lütke (Shopify), and Dr. Akhila Cadet (Change Cadet).  Read more about the rituals at Coda — and add your own here: a transcript of this episode: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
Tinder. Top Gun. Roots. The Simpsons. What do they have in common? Media icon Barry Diller. We're re-airing a classic episode with some wise words. Barry is what we call an "infinite learner." He’s only interested in things he's never done before. And if they’ve never been done by ANYONE? Better yet. He succeeds by embracing that he is, in fact, a master of nothing. Entrepreneurs, take note: You just might be an infinite learner yourself, and Barry shares a lesson or two you can use. Listen to Part 2 of this interview, "Learn to unlearn": a transcript of this interview at: to the Masters of Scale weekly newsletter at
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
Comments (108)

Mack Bawden

Reid when are you coming to Utah!?

Oct 1st

Robert CN

the guest is great but the interviewer's frequent cutting into the conversation to narrate it in his own words, with his frequent pauses, is annoying.

Sep 21st

Mack Bawden

Love this episode. I'm a huge peloton digital fan, my dream in life is to buy the tread! Love this show thanks so much Reid

Aug 26th



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
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