Hoffman Unleashes His Optimism at TEDxSV

“I’m an optimist,” Reid Hoffman told me during a break at TEDx Silicon Valley on Saturday.

Hoffman, founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn.com, was the lead off speaker at the TEDx conference at Stanford University. Truth be told, everyone there–the two dozen or so presenters and the more than 200 attendees and volunteers–were all optimistic.

“I’m not a pessimist,” Hoffman added. “And probably the best time to invest in startups is when everyone else is pessimistic. I see nothing but good things ahead.”

Hoffman, who recently joined Greylock Partners as a partner, has an extensive resume when it comes to startups. The Stanford grad was previously an executive VP at online payment company PayPal and has several angel investments to his credit, including Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Ning, Six Apart and Zynga. He is also a board member at micro-lender Kiva.org and Firefox developer Mozilla.

Hoffman talked at TEDx about social causes on the Internet and how the actions of groups of people can be coordinated worldwide to help enact social change. He called these micro-groups. And the notion goes along well with TEDx, which an organizer told me was watched live online via Ustream by more than 82,000 people in 45 countries. That online viewership included at least one airborne person who tweeted that she was watching while flying to JFK.

After his talk, Hoffman assured me that he won’t be investing in social causes for Greylock, but will stick to his knitting and focus on consumer Internet companies and software.

“Our limited partners would prefer it that way,:” he said.