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What we learned when our CEO interviewed the legendary Reid Hoffman

From our leaders | July 22, 2020 | 2 min. read

By the Aurora Team

One of the best things about working at Aurora is not only having the support of top-tier investors, but being able to learn from them.

Having co-founded PayPal and LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman is often called the “oracle” of Silicon Valley. He is also deeply interested in positively shaping how technology impacts society, electing to invest in companies like Aurora and working with leaders like President Obama. Given the breadth of challenges in our world today, it felt especially timely and inspiring to hear Reid’s perspective on so many important issues. Below is a roundup of the most insightful things we learned from Reid when Chris interviewed him in a virtual fireside chat.

What is the pandemic’s impact on the future of work?

With the pandemic, there has been mass adoption of tools that help people work from home and share knowledge more effectively without having “to be” in the room. How we build companies has changed and the pandemic has accelerated our digital future by five to ten years, easy. And these tools, like video conferencing, productivity tools like Coda and Figma, will stay with us after the pandemic acceleration.

What is the pandemic’s impact on the fundraising landscape?

Fundraising for “growth companies” will be reserved for the most elite teams in industries. Aurora is well-positioned and has the highest domain knowledge per person in the world when it comes to self-driving. Also, with meeting remotely now completely acceptable, we’ll see more investment in companies outside Silicon Valley, which can be great for diversity.

For more of Reid’s thoughts on fundraising in these times, check out his recent podcast on the Virtual VC.

What is Silicon Valley’s role in positively shaping society when it comes to self-driving technology?

Self-driving technology has given this country a real chance of becoming the global leader in transportation again. There is no question that self-driving will improve productivity in new areas while reducing costs, enabling investments to be made in other areas. That said, it’s our responsibility to ensure the benefits are felt across many different geographies, races, and cultures.

How critical is immigration to this country?

Immigration is how our country has become a global leader in innovation and technology — and it is the only way America will persist as a superpower. If we don’t bring it back, we will lose America’s leadership in industry, reserve world currency, and influence.

How can technology help our country be a global leader?

Societies are healthy when the majority of people believe their children will have better lives than previous generations. Technology plays a big part in that because there’s no question that it transforms jobs, how we work, and where we live. For example, the introduction of the automobile also created the suburb, which led to a lot of new construction and urban development — a very positive thing. I am a strong advocate of accelerating our position in technology because if you let off the gas and let another country lead, the position of “follower” is much more difficult on a society. If your country is a technological follower, you only have at best, the jobs of the past — which means fewer jobs, lower wages, worse healthcare, and more.

How do we know we’re making progress toward building a diverse and inclusive company?

Because you can feel yourselves doing the hard work. The key to addressing diversity is to invest and take the extra steps. So, if you feel the strain of doing the work because it’s hard, you know you’re paying more than lip service to the cause. Adopt the same kind of innovation mindset and try different solutions. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

How do you weather the highs and lows as a startup?

There are many high and low moments when you’re a startup, which is why understanding and embracing the hero’s journey is so important. Don’t be afraid or have fear. If you have a good mission and plan to deliver that mission, the hero’s journey will be worth it.

If you’d like to learn more about Aurora and what we’re building, please check us out—we’re also hiring!

the Aurora Team

Delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly.