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Reid Hoffman, Other Silicon Valley Investors to Teach Stanford Class on Rapid Growth

Are "scale-ups" the new startups?

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How do you grow your startup at the speed of light once it graduates past the “starting” phase?

That’s the question a handful of top Silicon Valley investors from the venture firm Greylock are hoping to answer for Stanford students in a new course this fall. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and former Mozilla CEO John Lilly will be teaching a class on what they call “Blitzscaling.”

“Most people think once you have that product eureka moment than everything else works,” Hoffman said. “But how do you get the right talent, how do you pivot it, how do you make it global?”

The class comes at a unique time in the tech industry, when developments in computing have lowered the cost of starting a company and made it easier than ever to rapidly add millions of users. Although there are plenty of books and stories about developing an initial product, there’s not as much information on growing a company exponentially in a short amount of time.

“How many 10,000-employee companies are there and how many people were there from when it was just three people?” Hoffman said. “How many then write about it and teach about it?”

Hoffman sees the Blitzscaling course as the unofficial sequel to Stanford’s “How to start a startup” class taught last year by Sam Altman, head of the popular Y Combinator accelerator program.

“In Silicon Valley most people think about startups but increasingly it’s obvious that Uber isn’t a startup, LinkedIn isn’t a startup. These are scale-ups,” Lilly said.

The Stanford Blitzscaling class will be filmed for those who can’t attend in person. Hoffman and Lilly are also reserving a small part the class for entrepreneurs who aren’t students; people can apply for those coveted spots. A huge host of top-name speakers will be coming in, including Stripe’s Patrick Collison, SurveyMonkey President Selina Tobaccowalla and NextDoor CEO Nirav Tolia. Topics covered range from what sales models to use at different stages of the company to the role of middle management.

Hoffman is a busy man, and when asked about his motivation to teach the class, he said that teaching bolsters his recruiting power as an investor.

“It shows entrepreneurs and students that we know a lot about how to scale a company — it’s one of the things we do well at Greylock,” Hoffman said.

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