Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs by Reid Hoffman.Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World's Most Successful Entrepreneurs by Reid Hoffman.

Masters of Scale

In the heart of Silicon Valley, you’ll find Reid Hoffman, the brilliant founder of LinkedIn and a renowned investor at Greylock. He’s not just a tech titan; behind the scenes, he’s also a highly sought-after adviser for corporate and political leaders. Through his podcast, “Masters of Scale,” Reid sits down with an impressive roster of visionary founders and top-notch leaders. In each episode, he delves deep into their strategies, uncovering the surprising tactics that fuel their companies’ remarkable growth. Now, in his book, he distills their invaluable insights, along with his own experiences as both a founder and investor, to unveil the secrets behind some of the most extraordinary success stories of our time.

Collaborating with the executive producers of “Masters of Scale,” Hoffman offers readers a rare glimpse into the entrepreneurial psyche. They share hard-earned wisdom gleaned from leaders at iconic companies like Apple, Nike, Netflix, Spotify, Starbucks, Google, Instagram, and Microsoft. Additionally, they shine a spotlight on the innovative startups, such as 23andMe, TaskRabbit, Black List, and Walker & Co., that are addressing the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Through compelling narratives and insightful analysis, “Masters of Scale” distills the collective knowledge of these visionaries into a series of counterintuitive principles accessible to anyone. The book provides answers to pressing questions such as: How do you identify a winning idea and transform it into a scalable venture? What can you learn from a rejection? When should you steer away from customer feedback? Which challenges should be tackled immediately, and which should be left to evolve? Can you truly generate profits while making the world a better place? (The answer is a resounding “Yes,” but it necessitates aligning your profits with your values.)

Based on a wealth of material, including insights from over a hundred interviews, much of which has never been aired on the podcast, this insider’s guide will inspire you to reimagine your approach to business in the present day.

Chapter 1: Getting to No


Chapter 1 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is aptly titled “Getting to No.” In this chapter, the author explores the crucial role of rejection and failure in the journey of entrepreneurship. Reid Hoffman uses the experiences and insights of accomplished entrepreneurs to shed light on the power of rejection and how it can be harnessed as a valuable tool for growth and success.

Embracing Rejection

Entrepreneurs often face a barrage of rejection, from potential investors declining to fund their startups to customers rejecting early product iterations. In “Getting to No,” Reid Hoffman highlights that rejection should not be seen as a dead-end but rather as a stepping stone toward improvement and innovation. This mindset shift is pivotal for those seeking success in the world of entrepreneurship.

Failures as Learning Opportunities

One of the key takeaways from this chapter is that failures are not the end of the road but rather the beginning of new opportunities. Reid Hoffman emphasizes that each rejection or failure contains valuable lessons that can help entrepreneurs refine their strategies, products, and approaches. When faced with a “no,” successful entrepreneurs view it as a chance to iterate, pivot, and get closer to their goals.

Pivotal Stories

Throughout the chapter, Reid Hoffman shares stories of prominent entrepreneurs who encountered their fair share of “no’s” on their path to success. These stories serve as inspiring examples of how persistence and adaptability can turn rejection into a catalyst for positive change. By highlighting the experiences of entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Sarah Blakely, the chapter showcases how even the most accomplished figures in business faced setbacks and used them to their advantage.

The Power of Resilience

“Getting to No” also underscores the importance of resilience in entrepreneurship. The ability to bounce back from rejection and keep moving forward is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs. Hoffman argues that embracing failure not only fosters resilience but also leads to innovation, as it compels entrepreneurs to constantly refine their ideas and strategies.


Chapter 1 of “Masters of Scale” sets the stage for the rest of the book by encouraging readers to view rejection and failure as integral parts of the entrepreneurial journey. The insights provided by Reid Hoffman and the stories of successful entrepreneurs demonstrate that it’s not about avoiding rejection but rather embracing it and using it as a stepping stone towards growth and success. By doing so, entrepreneurs can harness the power of “no” and turn it into a valuable tool for achieving their goals and scaling their businesses. This chapter provides a valuable perspective for anyone navigating the challenging terrain of entrepreneurship and serves as a reminder that even the most successful figures in business started with their fair share of “no’s” along the way.

Chapter 2: Doing Things That Don’t Scale


Chapter 2 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman, titled “Do Things That Don’t Scale,” delves into a fundamental concept in entrepreneurship. In this chapter, Hoffman explores the idea that early-stage entrepreneurs should not be fixated on achieving scalability right from the start. Instead, they should focus on creating a strong foundation, building relationships, and delivering exceptional value to their initial customers.

The MVP and the Importance of Flexibility

Reid Hoffman emphasizes the value of creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a basic version of your product or service, to test the market and gather feedback. The MVP allows entrepreneurs to make adjustments and improvements based on real-world user experiences. By staying flexible and open to changes, entrepreneurs can fine-tune their offerings to better meet customer needs and preferences.

Building Relationships and Community

The chapter underscores the importance of building strong relationships with early customers. Instead of trying to scale to a larger customer base immediately, entrepreneurs should focus on providing exceptional value and building trust with their early adopters. Happy early customers can become brand advocates and provide invaluable word-of-mouth referrals, which can be more effective than traditional marketing efforts.

Learning from Airbnb and PayPal

Reid Hoffman uses the examples of Airbnb and PayPal to illustrate the concept of “doing things that don’t scale.” Both companies started by solving specific problems for a niche market, even before they had a fully scalable platform. Airbnb initially used manual, hands-on methods to help hosts and guests connect, while PayPal gave away money to incentivize users to sign up. These unconventional approaches allowed these companies to gain traction and learn from their early experiences.

The Pivot and Scalability

The chapter also highlights the importance of recognizing when to pivot. Entrepreneurs should remain agile and be ready to adjust their strategies based on market feedback. Hoffman argues that true scalability can only be achieved after you’ve validated your product or service and have a deep understanding of your customers’ needs.


Chapter 2 of “Masters of Scale” serves as a reminder that the pursuit of scalability should not be the primary focus for early-stage entrepreneurs. Instead, they should concentrate on delivering value to their initial customers, gathering feedback, and building strong relationships. By doing so, entrepreneurs create a solid foundation for future growth and scalability. The stories of Airbnb and PayPal demonstrate that even the most successful companies started small and iterated based on early market insights. “Do Things That Don’t Scale” offers a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs: success often begins with a narrow focus, adaptability, and an unwavering commitment to creating exceptional value for early customers.

Chapter 3: What’s the Big Idea?


Chapter 3 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is titled “What’s the Big Idea?” This chapter delves into the critical role of innovation and ideation in entrepreneurship. It explores how groundbreaking ideas are conceived, nurtured, and brought to life by entrepreneurs, setting the stage for long-term success and scalability.

The Genesis of Big Ideas

Reid Hoffman emphasizes that successful entrepreneurs often start with a “big idea.” These ideas are transformative, solving problems, addressing unmet needs, or creating entirely new markets. They serve as the foundation upon which a successful business is built. Throughout the chapter, Hoffman uses real-life examples to illustrate how these big ideas can disrupt industries and capture the imagination of customers.

Innovative Thinking

The chapter also delves into the creative process behind generating big ideas. Reid Hoffman highlights the importance of thinking outside the box, seeking inspiration from diverse sources, and encouraging a culture of innovation within a company. The entrepreneurial mindset often involves challenging the status quo and reimagining how things can be done differently and better.

Risk and Reward

Innovation often involves taking risks. Entrepreneurs must be willing to embrace uncertainty and invest resources, time, and energy into their big ideas. However, as Hoffman points out, the potential rewards can be immense. Successful entrepreneurs understand that calculated risks can lead to groundbreaking products and services that differentiate them from the competition.

Learning from Iconic Innovators

The chapter draws on the experiences of renowned innovators, such as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, to showcase the power of big ideas. Steve Jobs revolutionized the way we interact with technology, while Elon Musk is pioneering new frontiers in space exploration and electric vehicles. Their visionary thinking and commitment to realizing big ideas have left an indelible mark on their respective industries.

Scaling Innovation

While innovation is critical for early-stage success, it is also essential for scalability. As entrepreneurs grow their businesses, they must continue to innovate to stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs. Chapter 3 serves as a reminder that innovation is not a one-time endeavor; it should be an ongoing, ingrained part of a company’s culture.


“What’s the Big Idea?” from “Masters of Scale” underscores the pivotal role of innovation in the entrepreneurial journey. Big ideas are the foundation upon which successful businesses are built, and they can disrupt entire industries. This chapter celebrates the power of innovative thinking, encouraging entrepreneurs to challenge conventions, take calculated risks, and nurture a culture of creativity within their organizations. By understanding and embracing the process of ideation and innovation, entrepreneurs can set the stage for long-term success and scalability. It serves as a compelling reminder that innovation is not a luxury but a necessity for those seeking to make a significant impact in the world of entrepreneurship.

Chapter 4: The Never-Ending Project: Culture


Chapter 4 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is aptly titled “The Never-Ending Project: Culture.” This chapter delves into the significance of company culture in entrepreneurship and how it shapes the identity, success, and sustainability of a business. Reid Hoffman explores how successful entrepreneurs prioritize and nurture a vibrant organizational culture that aligns with their vision and values.

The Essence of Company Culture

In the chapter, Hoffman underscores the idea that a company’s culture isn’t a static concept. Rather, it is a dynamic, ever-evolving entity that influences how employees interact, how decisions are made, and how the company adapts to change. A strong company culture serves as the guiding force that keeps the organization on course during times of growth, challenges, and transformation.

Leading by Example

Hoffman emphasizes that a company’s leaders play a pivotal role in shaping its culture. Their behaviors, values, and actions set the tone for the entire organization. Successful entrepreneurs lead by example, embodying the principles they wish to see within their teams. They prioritize transparency, honesty, and open communication to foster trust and collaboration.

The Impact of Values

The chapter highlights the importance of defining and articulating core values within a company. These values serve as the foundation of the organizational culture. When these values are clear and consistently communicated, they guide employee behavior, shape decision-making, and create a shared sense of purpose and identity.

Cultural Adaptability

Hoffman also discusses how company culture needs to adapt and evolve as a business grows. Startups may have a different culture compared to a mature, established company, and this is natural. However, the core values should remain intact. Entrepreneurs must be willing to pivot and adjust their culture to accommodate the changing needs of the organization while staying true to their guiding principles.

Cultural Alignment

The chapter draws on the experiences of notable entrepreneurs, including Brian Chesky of Airbnb and Ed Catmull of Pixar, to illustrate the impact of a strong company culture. Airbnb’s focus on creating a sense of belonging aligns with its culture of empathy and community, while Pixar’s culture of continuous creative collaboration fosters innovation and excellence.


Chapter 4 of “Masters of Scale” brings to light the pivotal role that a well-defined and nurtured company culture plays in the success of an entrepreneurial venture. Company culture is not a one-time project but a continuous, evolving process. It is shaped by leaders who exemplify the values they promote and adapt as the company grows. The chapter serves as a reminder that a thriving culture can be a source of strength, resilience, and differentiation for a business. It is a testament to the idea that a company’s culture is not just a slogan on the wall but a living, breathing entity that influences every aspect of the organization. Successful entrepreneurs understand this and invest in building a culture that aligns with their vision and values, creating a work environment that inspires and empowers their teams to achieve greatness.

Chapter 5: Growing Fast, Growing Slow


Chapter 5 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is titled “Growing Fast, Growing Slow.” In this chapter, Hoffman explores the delicate balance that entrepreneurs must strike when it comes to scaling their businesses. He emphasizes that the pace of growth should be a strategic decision, tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of each company.

The Art of Scaling

Scaling a business is a fundamental goal for most entrepreneurs, as it allows for increased reach, profitability, and impact. However, Reid Hoffman points out that the process of scaling should not be pursued recklessly. Entrepreneurs should consider the various factors that influence the pace of growth, including market demand, available resources, and organizational capabilities.

Growing Fast

Hoffman discusses the advantages and challenges of rapid growth. Fast-scaling companies often aim to capture a significant market share in a short period. This approach requires a keen focus on execution and the ability to secure substantial investments. While it can yield substantial rewards, it can also lead to operational challenges, strained resources, and the risk of losing control.

Growing Slow

On the other hand, growing slowly allows entrepreneurs to maintain a tighter grip on their business and focus on quality, sustainability, and profitability. This approach is ideal for companies that prioritize long-term stability and customer loyalty over quick market dominance. Slow growth provides the opportunity to refine processes, develop a strong brand, and build a loyal customer base.

Striking a Balance

Reid Hoffman argues that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to scaling. The key is to find the right balance between fast and slow growth based on a company’s goals and unique circumstances. Entrepreneurs should weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each approach and tailor their strategy accordingly.

Learning from Amazon

The chapter uses Amazon as a case study to highlight the significance of finding the right balance in scaling. Amazon initially focused on growing slowly, building infrastructure and perfecting customer service. Over time, they shifted gears and began to scale rapidly, expanding into new markets and launching innovative services like Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon’s success is a testament to the power of adapting the scaling strategy to fit the company’s evolving needs.


Chapter 5 of “Masters of Scale” underscores the strategic importance of balancing the pace of growth when scaling a business. Entrepreneurs should carefully consider the factors that influence their scaling decisions, recognizing that both fast and slow growth have their advantages and disadvantages. Successful scaling is not about speed but about aligning the growth strategy with the company’s vision and capabilities. The chapter serves as a valuable reminder that there is no universal formula for scaling and that the right approach depends on the specific goals and circumstances of each entrepreneur and their business. By making informed, strategic choices, entrepreneurs can set their companies on a path to sustainable growth and long-term success.

Chapter 6: Learn to Unlearn


Chapter 6 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is aptly titled “Learn to Unlearn.” In this chapter, Hoffman delves into the critical concept of adaptation and how successful entrepreneurs embrace change, unlearn old habits, and remain open to new approaches and ideas in the dynamic world of business.

The Necessity of Adaptation

In a rapidly evolving business landscape, the ability to adapt and unlearn is a crucial asset for entrepreneurs. Reid Hoffman underscores that clinging to old strategies, processes, or mindsets can hinder a company’s growth and success. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that change is inevitable and that they must continually evolve to stay competitive and relevant.

Embracing Failure as a Learning Opportunity

The chapter highlights the importance of learning from failure and mistakes. Hoffman argues that failure should not be feared but rather embraced as a valuable teacher. When entrepreneurs acknowledge their missteps, they have the opportunity to unlearn ineffective practices and develop new, more successful approaches.

Shifting Strategies with Changing Environments

Reid Hoffman uses examples like Netflix and Microsoft to illustrate the power of adaptation. Netflix started as a DVD-by-mail rental service but adapted to the changing landscape by transitioning to a streaming model. Microsoft, too, shifted its strategy from being solely a software company to embracing cloud computing. These examples highlight the need for companies to unlearn old paradigms and adapt to changing market dynamics.

Cultivating a Learning Culture

The chapter emphasizes the importance of creating a learning culture within organizations. Entrepreneurs should encourage their teams to stay curious, challenge the status quo, and remain open to new information and ideas. A learning culture enables a company to adapt more swiftly to changes in the marketplace.

Resilience and Agility

“Learn to Unlearn” highlights that resilience and agility are key traits of successful entrepreneurs. Adaptation is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Entrepreneurs must be ready to pivot, make strategic shifts, and unlearn practices that no longer serve the company’s goals.


Chapter 6 of “Masters of Scale” underscores the significance of learning to unlearn in the entrepreneurial journey. Adaptation is a fundamental aspect of success in an ever-changing business environment. Entrepreneurs who recognize the value of change and are willing to unlearn old habits and embrace new approaches are better equipped to thrive. The chapter serves as a compelling reminder that failure is not a dead end but an opportunity for growth. By fostering a culture of learning, entrepreneurs can inspire their teams to remain agile, curious, and resilient in the face of challenges. It is a testament to the idea that adaptation and unlearning are not weaknesses but strengths that propel entrepreneurs and their companies toward innovation and long-term success.

Chapter 7: Watch what they do – not what they say


Chapter 7 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is titled “Watch What They Do, Not What They Say.” In this chapter, Hoffman explores a critical aspect of entrepreneurship: the value of observing behavior and actions over relying solely on what people say. Successful entrepreneurs understand that actions often reveal more about a person’s true intentions and character than words.

The Importance of Actions

Reid Hoffman emphasizes that while words can convey intentions and promises, actions are the ultimate proof of commitment and dedication. Entrepreneurs should pay close attention to the actions of team members, business partners, and competitors to gain insights into their true motivations and values.

Trust Through Observation

The chapter underscores that trust is built on observable actions, not just verbal assurances. Entrepreneurs must be vigilant and perceptive when evaluating the trustworthiness of individuals and organizations. Actions consistent with stated values and intentions inspire confidence and reliability.

Learning from Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt

Hoffman illustrates the concept of “watch what they do” through the experiences of prominent entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Eric Schmidt. Elon Musk’s tireless dedication to SpaceX, Tesla, and other ventures is evident in his actions, reflecting his commitment to his ambitious goals. Eric Schmidt’s years of service at Google and Alphabet showcased his long-term dedication to the company’s vision.

Bridging the Say-Do Gap

The chapter delves into the notion of the “say-do gap,” which refers to the misalignment between what people say and what they do. Successful entrepreneurs are keen on minimizing this gap, ensuring that their actions align with their words. By leading by example, entrepreneurs inspire trust and integrity within their organizations.

Cultural Implications

Reid Hoffman also highlights the cultural impact of actions within an organization. Company culture is often influenced more by what leaders and employees do rather than what is stated in a mission statement. Entrepreneurs must be conscious of their actions and how they affect the culture they aim to cultivate.


Chapter 7 of “Masters of Scale” serves as a compelling reminder that actions speak louder than words in the world of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs who observe behavior and value consistency between words and deeds are better equipped to build trust and create a strong, reliable, and transparent organizational culture. The chapter encourages a focus on the tangible actions that reflect commitment, integrity, and dedication. By understanding the significance of actions and the impact they have on trust and culture, entrepreneurs can navigate the challenges of business with a greater sense of confidence and clarity. It’s a testament to the idea that in entrepreneurship, actions truly do speak louder than words.

Chapter 8: The Art of the Pivot


Chapter 8 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is aptly titled “The Art of the Pivot.” This chapter delves into the concept of pivoting in the entrepreneurial journey, where businesses adapt and change their strategies to better respond to market conditions, customer feedback, and new opportunities.

The Pivot as a Strategic Imperative

Reid Hoffman underscores that successful entrepreneurs are not stubbornly wedded to their initial business concepts. They understand that the ability to pivot is a strategic imperative. Pivoting is about making a change that can transform a company’s prospects for the better. Whether it’s adjusting a product, targeting a new market, or adopting a different business model, the pivot is a flexible response to the ever-changing business landscape.

Embracing Feedback

The chapter highlights the importance of listening to feedback from customers and the market. Entrepreneurs who actively seek and act on feedback can make more informed decisions about when and how to pivot. A willingness to adapt based on user input is a hallmark of successful entrepreneurs.

Examples of Pivots

Reid Hoffman offers real-life examples of successful pivots in the chapter. One notable case is Slack, which initially started as a gaming company but later pivoted to become a communication and collaboration tool for businesses. Instagram began as a check-in app and transformed into a photo-sharing social media platform. These examples demonstrate the value of recognizing opportunities for change and seizing them.

Pivot or Persevere

Hoffman introduces the concept of “pivot or persevere.” Entrepreneurs should regularly assess the viability of their current business strategy and, if necessary, pivot to adapt to new conditions. Knowing when to persevere and when to pivot is a crucial decision that can determine the long-term success of a business.

Learning from Failure

The chapter emphasizes that failure is not the end of the road; it can be a pivot point. Failed ventures can provide valuable insights that inform future success. The art of the pivot encourages entrepreneurs to learn from their mistakes, refine their approach, and ultimately achieve their goals.


Chapter 8 of “Masters of Scale” celebrates the entrepreneurial art of the pivot. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that staying flexible, adapting to change, and responding to feedback are key strategies for navigating the complexities of business. The chapter encourages entrepreneurs to view the pivot as an opportunity for growth and transformation, rather than as a sign of failure. By understanding when and how to pivot, entrepreneurs can leverage change to their advantage and improve their chances of long-term success. It serves as a compelling reminder that in the ever-evolving world of business, adaptability and the willingness to pivot can be powerful tools for entrepreneurs seeking to make their mark.

Chapter 9: Lead, Lead Again


Chapter 9 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is titled “Lead, Lead Again.” In this chapter, Hoffman delves into the pivotal role of leadership in entrepreneurship and how successful leaders constantly evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities.

The Essence of Leadership

Leadership is a cornerstone of entrepreneurship, guiding companies through the tumultuous waters of business. Reid Hoffman emphasizes that being a great leader is not a fixed trait but an evolving skill. Entrepreneurs must continue to learn and adapt to the ever-changing demands of their roles.

The Growth Mindset

The chapter emphasizes the significance of adopting a growth mindset as a leader. Successful entrepreneurs are open to learning, adapting, and improving. They embrace challenges as opportunities to grow and evolve, both personally and professionally.

Learning from Jeff Weiner

Hoffman illustrates the concept of evolving leadership through the example of Jeff Weiner, the former CEO of LinkedIn. Under Weiner’s leadership, LinkedIn underwent significant growth and transformation. His emphasis on compassion, mindfulness, and collaboration became the bedrock of the company’s culture. His willingness to lead and lead again by adopting new approaches and fostering a culture of continuous improvement is a testament to the power of dynamic leadership.

Leading by Example

Reid Hoffman argues that effective leadership is not just about words but also about actions. Leaders set the tone and culture within their organizations. By leading by example and embodying the values they promote, they inspire their teams to follow suit.

Adaptability and Resilience

The chapter highlights that successful leaders must be adaptable and resilient. The business landscape is ever-evolving, and leaders must be prepared to navigate uncertainty, learn from mistakes, and pivot when necessary.


Chapter 9 of “Masters of Scale” emphasizes that leadership is an ongoing journey, not a destination. Successful entrepreneurs recognize that effective leadership is a skill that can be cultivated and improved over time. They embrace challenges and opportunities as chances to learn and grow, and they lead by example, inspiring their teams to follow suit.

In the world of entrepreneurship, leadership is not static but a dynamic force that evolves to meet the needs of a changing business landscape. By adopting a growth mindset and a commitment to personal and professional development, entrepreneurs can become more effective leaders who can lead, lead again, and ultimately guide their companies to long-term success. This chapter serves as a compelling reminder that leadership is not just about taking charge but also about constant self-improvement and adaptation in the face of challenges and opportunities.

Chapter 10: The Trojan Horse


Chapter 10 of “Masters of Scale: Surprising Truths from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs” by Reid Hoffman is aptly titled “The Trojan Horse.” In this chapter, Hoffman explores the concept of strategic disruption, where entrepreneurs infiltrate established markets and industries with innovative ideas and technologies, much like the legendary Trojan Horse.

The Power of Disruption

Reid Hoffman underscores that entrepreneurs who aim to disrupt existing markets must be strategic in their approach. The disruptor’s role is to identify weaknesses or unmet needs within established industries and introduce innovative solutions that challenge the status quo. This strategic disruption has the potential to transform industries and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Infiltrating Established Markets

The chapter highlights the importance of entrepreneurs finding entry points into established markets. Reid Hoffman argues that a successful “Trojan Horse” strategy allows new entrants to gain a foothold in industries that are traditionally difficult to penetrate. By providing a unique and compelling value proposition, entrepreneurs can disrupt the existing players’ dominance.

Learning from Airbnb

Hoffman uses Airbnb as a case study to illustrate the Trojan Horse concept. Airbnb disrupted the traditional hotel industry by offering a platform for homeowners to rent out their properties to travelers. By creating a seamless and cost-effective alternative to traditional hotels, Airbnb transformed the way people think about accommodation while infiltrating the hospitality market.

Adapting and Innovating

The chapter underscores that successful disruptors must be prepared to adapt and innovate continuously. Once inside the established market, entrepreneurs must respond to challenges, evolving consumer needs, and market changes. The ability to adapt and refine their approach is key to long-term success.

Disruptive Mindset

Reid Hoffman argues that disruptive entrepreneurs possess a unique mindset. They challenge conventions, question the status quo, and are willing to take risks in pursuit of their vision. The chapter encourages entrepreneurs to adopt this disruptive mindset as they enter established industries.


Chapter 10 of “Masters of Scale” celebrates the concept of the Trojan Horse as a strategic approach to entrepreneurship. Successful disruptors infiltrate established industries by identifying weaknesses and offering innovative solutions. They challenge the status quo and create new opportunities for themselves and the industry as a whole.

The chapter serves as a compelling reminder that entrepreneurship is not just about following established paths but about challenging norms and reshaping industries. Entrepreneurs who adopt a disruptive mindset, pursue strategic disruption, and remain adaptable have the potential to make a lasting impact on the business world. By embracing change, challenging traditions, and infiltrating established markets, they can create new pathways to success and innovation.

Additional Reading

  1. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel – Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an influential tech investor, shares his insights on entrepreneurship, innovation, and creating a unique future.
  2. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries – This book introduces the principles of the lean startup methodology, which focuses on validating ideas quickly, minimizing waste, and achieving successful outcomes.
  3. “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail” by Clayton Christensen – Clayton Christensen explores why successful companies often fail to innovate and adapt to disruptive technologies, providing valuable lessons for entrepreneurs.
  4. “The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets” by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits – This book offers practical guidance on applying lean startup principles to drive innovation and success.
  5. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t” by Jim Collins – Jim Collins identifies the characteristics that distinguish companies that achieve enduring greatness from those that do not.
  6. Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell – Malcolm Gladwell explores the factors that contribute to success, shedding light on the often overlooked elements beyond talent and hard work.
  7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers” by Ben Horowitz – Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz, offers practical advice and insights for handling the challenges and uncertainties of running a startup.
  8. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek – Simon Sinek’s book focuses on the importance of starting with a clear sense of purpose and why it matters for leaders and organizations.
  9. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant – Adam Grant explores the traits and behaviors of original thinkers and innovators, offering insights on how to foster creativity and innovation.
  10. “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander – This book provides a unique perspective on leadership and personal growth, emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and possibility.