LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner warns grads of stratification and tribalism

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner
says young people today must navigate two societal

Stephen Lam/Getty


The CEO of LinkedIn told the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton
School this weekend that “seemingly anything is possible.” From
eliminating disease to colonizing
, humans are accomplishing things that seemed
unfathomable mere decades ago.

But Jeff Weiner, who became CEO of LinkedIn in 2008, also warned
from his alma mater about two emerging trends that could have
have serious consequences on society.”

The first was socio-economic stratification. The rich are
getting richer, and the poor poorer. 

“It’s already hovering at historic highs and threatens to get
even worse as new technologies potentially displace millions of
people from their jobs,” Weiner said. “When people lose access to
economic opportunity, they become disenfranchised and that can
have serious consequences on society.”

Statistics back up Weiner’s warning. Incomes for the
0.0001% of richest Americans
increased 636%
between 1980 and 2014, according to a UC
Berkeley paper reported on by Business Insider’s Pedro
Nicolaci da Costa. But they didn’t budge for those in the bottom

Moreover, the top 1% earned 81 times as much as those in
the bottom 50% in 2014, according to the UC
Berkeley research
. In 1980, the top 1% earned “only” 27 times

The second theme that’s afflicting people today is tribalism,
Weiner said. People tend to listen and cling to those who have
similar looks, viewpoints, and lifeways as they do. 

“But there’s a dark downside,” Weiner said. “All these tribes
spend too much time thinking about themselves, their own
self-interests, and their own belief models.”

Technology also allows us to further filter out those who are
different than us, Weiner said. And that makes us unaware of what
other “tribes” are thinking. 

‘Breaking free’ for a better society

Weiner concluded that compassion, a theme that comprised the
majority of his speech, could allow people to connect.

“By breaking free of our own tribes, even if only for a moment,
and seeing things through the lens of people unlike ourselves, we
can begin to close the gaps, whether they be socio-economic,
racial, gender, political or otherwise,” Weiner said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook noted similar trends in his graduation address
to Duke
on Sunday
. Deep divisions in opportunity, education, and
point of view are rampant in America, he said.

Like Weiner, Cook concluded on what the Class of 2018 could do to
bridge those gaps. He focused on the power of technology, not

“No generation has ever held more power than yours,” Cook said.
“And no generation has been able to make change happen faster
than yours can. The pace at which progress is possible has
accelerated dramatically. Aided by technology, every individual
has the tools, potential, and reach to build a better world.”

Watch Weiner’s
full speech or
read it on LinkedIn

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