It’s tough to be one of the most respected entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley when startup bros try to call you out for having a confusing product.
Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn, had an awkward interaction last week at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference when one Jourdan Urbach, the CTO of social video platform Ocho, asked a sort of non-question aimed at telling Hoffman how badly LinkedIn was designed. After a sharp breath and some nervous laughter, Hoffman attempted to give the kid and the crowd a straight answer.
Watch what happened below — Urbach’s question begins at 23:25.
Urbach’s question began to take a dig at Hoffman when he began saying, “Does the decision continue to be at LinkedIn to have one of the least responsive, most confusing interfaces on the public internet—”
Urbach was interrupted by Hoffman’s audible inhale, but continued with, “No, I’m completely serious, nobody would disagree with that. It is.”
Hoffman replied, “Well I would disagree with that. And I’m somebody other than nobody, but yes, that’s okay, keep going.”
“Is that a tactical decision—,” Urbach said before being cut off by Hoffman’s nervous laughter.
When Hoffman got around to responding, he said, “The simple answer is no, and the simple answer is we’re working on it, and I’ll take the next question,” before the moderator pushed him to further elaborate on his answer.
“Look, we work on it, we may work on it slower than we should. I think some people find it very confusing. That’s absolutely the case and there’s definitely more work we can do. There’s also people who work on it every day and actually, in fact, know how to do it. And we have a lot of complicated functionalities. So it’s not just uploading a picture hitting a ‘like.’
“We got a lot of work to do, we got to improve, but it’s, you know, it was like, okay, so look, we got a lot of work to do. His question was its own answer.”
The moderator then chimed in:
“Well, it was interesting with Craigslist. He wanted to know if, for some reason, are you keeping it bad for … ”
“No. The answer to that is no,” Hoffman finished.
Kids these days, always disrespecting their elders’ user interfaces.