After selling LinkedIn to Microsoft, co-founder Reid Hoffman’s net worth ballooned up to $3.8 billion. But the first paycheck he ever received was from a role-playing game company.
Reid Hoffman was born in Palo Alto, California and discovered role-playing at the age of 9. By 12, he was gutsy and precocious enough to mark suggested changes to a product in red ink, and walk in to the offices of the company that published it. That company was Chaosium, home of RuneQuest, and Call of Cthulhu. A developer looked through Hoffman’s suggestions, and was so impressed that he offered him a job writing on an upcoming product.
Soon, he was working on a 1982 campaign for RuneQuest, entitled Borderlands. His name is prominently displayed on the front of the box, along with gaming legends such as Sandy Petersen and Greg Stafford.
And a check arrived for Hoffman for $127. “It changed my father’s view of what I was doing,” he recalled.
Though now one of the richest humans in the universe, he still keeps up with the role-playing game field. Vice-President of Chaosium Michael O’Brien said that Hoffman backed the recent RuneQuest Kickstarter.
O’Brien added that, “Now [that Hoffman]’s sold LinkedIn, the average net [worth] of all Chaosium employees past and present is about $112 million. But lest anyone think we are all multi-millionaires, that $112 million figure is derived by dividing Reid Hoffman’s… net worth by the 50 current and ex-employees.” O’Brien did add that “sadly… the other net worths are not statistically significant for the purposes of the calculation.”
The New Yorker points out that tech tycoons often have a similar “origin story” where they have an early experience with tech or the internet, and that encounter determines the warp and woof of the rest of their life.
For Steve Jobs, it took place at the Homebrew Computer Club, in Menlo Park. For Hoffman, it was fantasy role-playing board games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, which he took up when he was nine.
How many other Reid Hoffmans are out there, playing role-playing games, and training their brains to think in ways no one has ever thought before? Do you think games make us smarter? Let us know in the comments below!
All images courtesy Chaosium, Inc.