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Why LinkedIn co-founder is trying to get Trump to release his taxes

Posted Sep 25, 2016 7:15 AM

Reid Hoffman, chairman and co-founder of LinkedIn Corp., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2016 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris. These days in Silicon Valley, Democratic supporters among the tech cognoscenti seem to be as common as hoodie-wearing twentysomethings with dreams of being the next Mark Zuckerberg. A number of high-profile tech leaders signed on to a June letter endorsing Hillary Clinton, and 150 others wrote an open letter saying a Donald Trump presidency would be a “disaster for innovation.”Yet some are taking a more creative approach at expressing their views. In recent weeks, Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, has rolled out two attempts designed to — if not directly help Clinton — try and lure Donald Trump to release his tax returns and spotlight the absurdities of this year’s election campaign.On Sept. 12, Hoffman, who also signed the June letter endorsing Clinton, wrote a post on Medium sharing that he would help a 26-year-old marine’s campaign to get Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The Marine, Peter Kiernan, hopes to lure Trump into releasing his returns by promising to donate money pledged on the website Crowdpac to veterans organizations. Hoffman said he would match the effort with a 5x contribution, up to $5 million.Then he launched a satirical card game, Trumped Up Cards — think Cards Against Humanity or Apples to Apples with a 2016 election slant — intended to both spotlight the absurdities of this year’s election and get more people talking about the election. The deck goes for $20.16, and all proceeds will benefit nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations that Hoffman says “ are already working to make America great.”We caught up with Hoffman about his two efforts, what the billionaire entrepreneur thinks about money in politics, and why he believes more business leaders have a responsibility to get involved in the political process. The conversation below has been edited for length and clarity.Q: So you’re basically selling a kind of Cards Against Humanity for the NeverTrump crowd. Where did you get the idea?A: I’ve been playing board games and card games my whole life. I’d played a lot of games — everything from versions of Dungeons and Dragons, everything else as a kid — and I’m familiar with the whole genre of comparison games. Cards Against Humanity. Apples to Apples. So I’d been thinking about creating one, actually about Silicon Valley, for a while. At the beginning of the year, my team and I were talking about the priorities of the year. And we’re like ‘shouldn’t we do [a card game] on Trump?’ So we made one for friends. Then after distributing it, they said this should be much more widely available. We hustled to put out an appropriate public version.Q: Where will the proceeds go, and who helped you take it from an idea to actual game?A: I have a little team who works for me. They’re part of my team for a number of things — everything from speaking at conferences to arranging events. The key thing was to try to make sure [the game was] kind of an inspiration, in line with things like the “Daily Show” and John Oliver. To realize you can both highlight the absurdities of the system — the absurdities of a reality television star running for president, on that being his credentials — together with actually learning something about the political election, all through the lens of satire.Sure, the person who buys it is probably sympathetic. But it’s something you can play with your friends. It’s meant to be around the dinner table, around the living room, creating a social environment in which people talk to each other, encouraging that kind of conversation about what are our values, what should we be thinking, what is a qualification for being president. That conversation — held in a personal way — is precisely what I would love to see more of.

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