Every year Sequoia Capital arranges a large dinner for its founders, close relationships and the Sequoia Capital team itself. It is a fantastic event where you can find yourself sitting across from Don Valentine (founder of Sequoia Capital), Ron Conoway (who got the Don Valentine jacket this year) and Doug Leone (the current head of Sequoia), listening to stories about the early years of tech.
It is also where you can have open conversions with other founders who share a similar adventure and now run public companies making hundreds of millions, sometimes billions, in revenues every year.
I often get asked by other founders what is the value of taking an investment from Sequoia Capital and what does it mean for your day to day. To me, the two core elements of SC’s value is in how hard they drive you to achieve and the kind of people they bring on as partners.
You see, at Sequoia Capital, making money is a top concern; as a startup you are constantly pushed to make more money. To me, who was raised by socialist parents in a semi socialist country, this has a negative ring to it (“the capitalist pig trying to become richer”). But over time, you slowly learn it is actually a very positive thing:
1. If you want “your baby” to really make an impact on the world it needs to last.
2. If you want to build a company that will last, it needs to make money.
3. A lasting company will generate jobs for many people and make their lives better.
4. Sequoia’s investors are endowment funds, health institutions and similar good-doers (Sequoia’s ethos). When you make Sequoia money, you create more scholarships, give people more free health care and make the world a truly better place.
The other element I mentioned are the partners themselves. I’m fortunate to work with Haim Sadger (take a few seconds to read his page on the SC website). In my experience, everything that is written on that page is true. In Haim I found someone I can trust to work with, someone who has the success of the company and its shareholders at the top of his mind.
And so, even though we personally chose Sequoia, and Sequoia chose us, we should always keep in mind the fact that no partnership is to be taken for granted. It requires on-going investment and work. The event last night was a fantastic one, and I thank Sequoia Capital, and specifically Stacey Gerber who did an amazing job, for inviting me.