Auren Hoffman

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Auren Hoffman
Auren Hoffman (16745356940).jpg
Hoffman in 2015
Born1974 (age 48–49)
NationalityAmerican
Occupation(s)Venture Capitalist, Angel Investor, Entrepreneur
SpouseHallie Alexandra Mitchell (m. 2011)
Websiteblog.summation.net

Auren Raphael Hoffman (born 1974) is an American entrepreneur, angel investor, author and CEO of SafeGraph, a firm that gathers location data from mobile devices and sells information about places and the movements of people.[1][2]

Personal life[edit]

Hoffman is a son of Amalia Hoffman of Larchmont, New York, and Edward M. Hoffman of Montvale, New Jersey. Amalia Hoffman is an author and illustrator of children’s books. Edward M. Hoffman works in New York as a software engineer and software consultant to the financial industry.[3] Hoffman graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1996.[4]

In 2011, Hoffman married an assistant U.S. Attorney, Hallie Alexandra Mitchell, who graduated from Princeton University, and received a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University School of Law.[3] Federal judge Barry G. Silverman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix, Arizona officiated the wedding which was held in Nashotah, Wisconsin.[3]

Business[edit]

Hoffman founded Kyber Systems in his junior year at UC Berkeley, as a way to pay for school.[5] Kyber was sold to Human Ingenuity in 1997.[6] Hoffman founded Bridgepath Inc. in 1998, which was acquired by Bullhorn, Inc. in October 2002.[7] In 2002 he sold the website GetRelevant to Lycos.[8] He then became chair of the Stonebrick Group through 2006, which sponsored networking events in the San Francisco area such as the Silicon Forum.[9][10] Hoffman's business style is sometimes referred to as a networker.[11][12] Hoffman is a speaker at events in the technology industry.[13]

In 2006 Hoffman cofounded Rapleaf and served as its CEO until 2012, when he left the company to run a Rapleaf spinoff called LiveRamp after Rapleaf was acquired by email marketing company TowerData.[14][15][16] On May 14, 2014 Acxiom announced that it had acquired Liveramp, for $310 Million.[17] Gawker mentioned a controversy surrounding privacy practices at Rapleaf.[18] Hoffman left LiveRamp a little more than a year after it was acquired.[19] As of December 2016, Hoffman is chairman of Siftery,[20] and was listed as CEO of a company called SafeGraph.[21]

Writer[edit]

Hoffman was a contributor to the Huffington Post, often on political subjects,[22] as well as Business Week and his own blog called Summation.[23][24][25] Hoffman is a Republican and a political contributor.[26] Hoffman contributed to Council on Foreign Relations papers in 2004.[27]

Controversy[edit]

In 2006, Wikipedia editors detected that Hoffman may have been editing his own Wikipedia entry, violating its guidelines.[28] Silicon Valley media publicized the evidence, which Hoffman eventually confirmed to VentureBeat in 2007.[29] Anonymous Wikipedia editors later edited out these references.[30] Hoffman has also been criticized for his personal and professional networking practices and presentation of his own reputation.[31][32][33]

Between 2007-2013, Hoffman received significant backlash over the data collection practices and sale of individuals' personal information to advertisers by his company, RapLeaf. As a prolific blogger and public spokesperson for the company, much of the criticism was directed at Hoffman personally.[34][35][36][37][38] A 2010 investigation by The Wall Street Journal revealed that the company transmitted identifying details about individuals to at least 12 companies, violating the terms of service of Facebook and MySpace. A spokesperson at Facebook said it had "taken steps. . .to significantly limit Rapleaf's ability to use any Facebook-related data."[39][40][41] When confronted by The Wall Street Journal and CNet, it quietly revised its privacy policy both times.[42] CNNMoney described RapLeaf as "selling your identity," and TechCrunch characterized its method of identifiable data extraction of Google and Microsoft employees as "creepy."[43][44] RapLeaf later became known as LiveRamp, and is now known as TowerData after being acquired by Acxiom.

Safegraph[edit]

Beginning in 2020, Hoffman's company Safegraph received criticism for its practice of collecting and selling location data from mobile phones. Public records requests by the Electronic Frontier Foundation revealed that between 2018 and 2020, Safegraph and its spin-off company Veraset sold or gave disaggregate, device-specific location data about millions of people to government agencies in the U.S.[45][46] In 2021, Google banned Safegraph from its Android app marketplace for violating its policies.[47] Developers who had installed Safegraph's Software Development Kit (SDK) in their apps were forced to remove the code or have their apps taken down by Google.

In May 2022, Motherboard was able to purchase data from Safegraph which revealed aggregate information about the movements of people who visited clinics that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood.[48] According to the report, the data showed "where groups of people visiting the locations came from, how long they stayed there, and where they then went afterwards." The report generated concern among pro-choice advocates due to news about the impending decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which would make abortion illegal in many states.[49] Shortly after Motherboard's report was published, Hoffman announced that Safegraph would stop selling data about movements to and from family planning centers, saying the data did not have commercial value.[2]

Investments[edit]

Hoffman is an angel investor and briefly worked as a venture capitalist with the Founders Fund in the 2011 to 2012 timeframe.[50] [51]

Some of Hoffman's investments include: Aardvark (search engine) (sold to Google), BackTweets by Backtype (sold to Twitter), Blip.tv, BrightRoll,[52] Chomp (search engine) (sold to Apple), CrowdFlower, Flowtown (sold to Demandforce which was sold to Intuit), Founders Fund, LabPixies (sold to Google), Meebo (sold to Google), MerchantCircle (sold to Reply.com), mob.ly (sold to GroupOn), Pingboard, Scopely, Thumbtack (website), Zoom Systems.,[22][53] and others.[54]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Alexander Ljung & Eric Wahlforss (September 17, 2008). "Chapter 5: RapLeaf". People, profiles and trust: on interpersonal trust in web-mediated social spaces. Lulu.com. pp. 60–70. ISBN 978-1-4092-2942-1.
  2. ^ a b Kate Kaye (May 4, 2022). "SafeGraph is under fire for selling abortion data. Its CEO says more changes are coming". Protocol. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Weddings/Celebrations: Hallie Mitchell, Auren Hoffman". The New York Times. July 2, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  4. ^ "Career Corner: Auren Hoffman". Engineering News. Vol. 79. University of California, Berkeley College of Engineering. January 29, 2009. Archived from the original on June 27, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  5. ^ Inside The Cult Of Kibu, by Lori Gottlieb - 2002, ISBN 978-1-903985-37-3
  6. ^ Money Makers: Inside the New World of Finance and Business. By David Snider, Chris Howard. ISBN 978-0-230-61401-7
  7. ^ "Bullhorn Acquires Bridgepath". Press release. Bullhorn. October 15, 2002. Archived from the original on December 16, 2002. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  8. ^ "Buy Boosts Terra Lycos' Targeted Ad Technology". Crunchbase. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  9. ^ "About Stonebrick Group". Archived from the original on November 2, 2005. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "Silicon Forum 2005". Stonebrick Group. October 12, 2005. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  11. ^ The starfish and the spider: the unstoppable power of leaderless organizations. By Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom. ISBN 978-1-59184-143-2
  12. ^ Nick Denton (April 20, 2007). "Auren Hoffman is Zelig". Gawker Media Valleywag. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  13. ^ Stanford Law School CIS/SLATA Speaker Series: Auren Hoffman Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Jessica Guynn (July 21, 2006). "Get some cash and some karma". Tech Chronicles blog. San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  15. ^ NA (October 1, 2013). "TowerData Acquires Rapleaf, Forges Comprehensive Email Data Solutions Company". Press Release. NEW YORK, NY. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  16. ^ "About Us". Company web site. LiveRamp. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  17. ^ Acxiom Signs Agreement to Acquire LiveRamp Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Tim Faulkner (September 18, 2007). "Can Auren Hoffman's Reputation Get Any Worse?". Gawker. Archived from the original on July 31, 2009. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  19. ^ "Why did Auren Hoffman leave LiveRamp?". Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  20. ^ "Siftery corporate website?". Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Coming Ad Tech Renaissance Will Be Fueled By Chinese Money". 14 September 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
  22. ^ a b "Auren Hoffman". Blog bio. Huffington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  23. ^ John Sumser (September 25, 2009). "Auren Hoffman v1.31". Top 100 Influencers blog. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  24. ^ "Auren Hoffman". Author Info. Business Week. Archived from the original on June 1, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  25. ^ "Summation will make you think ... by Auren Hoffman ... since 1997". Blog. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  26. ^ "Auren Hoffman - $2,000 in Political Contributions for 2008".
  27. ^ David Philips (January 15, 2004). "Center for Preventive Action: Stability, Security, and Sovereignty in the Republic of Georgia" (PDF). Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  28. ^ "Who is MLK Hamilton?".
  29. ^ Matt Marshall (January 4, 2007). "Valley Networker Auren Hoffman's Reputation On The Line". Venture Beat. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  30. ^ "Create an online reputation".
  31. ^ "Auren Hoffman gets 100% of the vote".
  32. ^ "President Bush, others lucky enough to meet Auren Hoffman". Gawker.
  33. ^ "Broadcasting your lying self — Andrew Keen". Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2021-08-13.
  34. ^ "The rap on Rapleaf, the "trust meter" you can't trust".
  35. ^ "Online Behavior Tracking and Privacy: 7 Worst Case Scenarios". Mashable. 3 November 2010.
  36. ^ Tim Faulkner (September 18, 2007). "Can Auren Hoffman's Reputation Get Any Worse?". Gawker. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  37. ^ "Why is RapLeaf still tracking me across the Web?". 9 April 2013.
  38. ^ Read, Max. "The Creepy Company Compiling a File on Your Online Activity—Using Your Real Name". Gawker.
  39. ^ Steel, Emily (25 October 2010). "A Web Pioneer Profiles Users by Name". Wall Street Journal.
  40. ^ "Facebook in Privacy Breach". Wall Street Journal. 18 October 2010.
  41. ^ Steel, Emily (26 October 2010). "Thousands of Web Users Delete Profiles from RapLeaf". Wall Street Journal.
  42. ^ Olsen, Stefanie. "People search engine Rapleaf revises privacy policy". CNET.
  43. ^ "Googlers Buy More Junk Food Than Microsofties (And Why Rapleaf Is Creepy)".
  44. ^ "Rapleaf: The company that sells your identity - Oct. 21, 2010". money.cnn.com.
  45. ^ Bennett Cyphers; Jason Kelly (August 19, 2021). eff.org https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/08/illinois-bought-invasive-phone-location-data-banned-broker-safegraph. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. ^ Bennett Cyphers (November 10, 2021). eff.org https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/11/data-broker-veraset-gave-bulk-device-level-gps-data-dc-government. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. ^ Joseph Cox (August 12, 2021). Motherboard https://www.vice.com/en/article/5db4ad/google-bans-safegraph-former-saudi-intelligence. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  48. ^ Joseph Cox (May 3, 2022). "Data Broker Is Selling Location Data of People Who Visit Abortion Clinics". Motherboard. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  49. ^ Sharon Zhang (May 19, 2022). "Warren Calls Out Tech Firms for Selling Abortion Clinic Patients' Location Data". Truthout. Retrieved December 4, 2022.
  50. ^ Dan Primack (December 19, 2011). "Auren Hoffman joins VC firm". CNN Fortune. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  51. ^ Dan Primack (February 5, 2013). "Silicon Valley entrepreneur departs venture capital firm". CNN Fortune. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
  52. ^ "Team". Web site. Brightroll. Archived from the original on November 14, 2006.
  53. ^ Business Insider, February 8, 2011: How Meebo Got Started and Its Strategy to Make the Web More Social
  54. ^ "LinkedIn". Web bio. LinkedIn. Retrieved December 19, 2013.