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Venture capital investors should harpoon more whales
February 3, 2020 | Financial Times | by John Thornhill.

*VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas.
* The worry for Silicon Valley is that the impulse for creative destruction is now fading
* It is easy to be rude about the venture capital industry. So here goes. The criticism runs that the VC sector is full of too many over-funded, ill-disciplined chancers who pass off hype for reality, groupthink for insight and luck for good judgment.....What’s more, a staggering 95 per cent of VC firms fail to make a decent enough return to justify the risks their investors run......the current mindset of the VC industry is responsible for the slowdown in new business formation and lack of economic dynamism in the US. All too often, addicted to capital-light, metric-heavy software businesses, VCs are failing to bet big enough on the breakthrough technologies that tackle our biggest challenges, such as climate change or cancer.........Katie Rae, chief executive and managing partner of The Engine, a Boston-based “tough tech” venture fund, says that many VCs have lost sight of their original purpose......VCs were all about funding tech breakthroughs but that has got lost,” ...... “A lot of VCs look more like private equity companies that do not want to lose any money so they end up backing dog-walking apps rather than quantum computing.”......Historically, the best venture capitalists have performed a vital capitalistic function: turning seemingly outlandish ideas and transformative technologies into everyday realities. Semiconductors, recombinant insulin and internet search engines have all come to market largely thanks to VC backing........“The VC industry is cut-throat. .....It provides the capital and expertise for start-ups to succeed.”.......In VC: An American History, Tom Nicholas traces VC’s high-risk, high-reward mentality back to the 19th-century whaling industry, which developed a novel form of venture financing. The idea was to back an expert captain who could fit out a robust ship, hire the best crew and endure an average of 3.6 years at sea. On landing a whale, the captain would return investors’ money several times over. But many ships returned empty-handed or sunk.........the pattern of financial returns made by Gideon Allen & Sons, the smartest backers of whaling ventures, were almost identical to those achieved by Sequoia Capital, one of the best VC firms operating today..........one of the striking features of the subsequent evolution of the VC industry.......was how contingent it was on time, circumstance and people. The west coast model of VC investing, owed an enormous amount to massive government investments in technology during the cold war, the expansion of world-beating universities in California and the emergence of some remarkable entrepreneurs and visionary investors, such as Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Don Valentine.......The worry for Silicon Valley is that some of that Schumpeterian impulse for creative destruction is now fading. One argument has it that Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly “corporatised” with Big Tech firms, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, championing the mantra that “big is beautiful” in the face of emerging competition from China.

The benign view is that Big Tech may be internalising much of the innovation once carried out by start-ups; the malign interpretation is that Cupertino, California [JCK: that is, "Big Tech"] is snuffing out smaller rivals.......

“Silicon Valley is overdue a disruption. It is not a hotbed of start-ups any more,” ..........Metaphorically, at least, the VC industry needs to get back in the business of funding wildly ambitious entrepreneurs intent on harpooning some more whales.
19th_century  Arthur_Rock  big_bets  Big_Tech  books  breakthroughs  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  cancers  climate_change  creative_destruction  disruption  Don_Valentine  entrepreneur  finance  financing  fundamental_discoveries  funding  HBS  high-risk  high-reward  innovation  investors  Joseph_Schumpeter  moonshots  public_investments  semiconductors  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  thinking_big  Tom_Perkins  tough_tech  unimaginative  vc  venture_capital  visionaries  whaling 
9 weeks ago by jerryking
Don Valentine, Founder of Sequoia Capital, Is Dead at 87 -
Oct. 25, 2019 | The New York Times | By Erin Griffith

In 1959, when Don Valentine joined a silicon company, “the word ‘Silicon Valley’ hadn’t been created yet,” he said in an interview at a technology conference in 2013.

In 1972, Mr. Valentine established Sequoia, and it soon became one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and enduring firms. Sequoia backed companies including Oracle, Microchip Technology, Linear Technology and Network Appliance. Several tech giants, including Electronic Arts and Sierra Semiconductor, were created in Sequoia’s offices.

Mr. Valentine invested in Atari in 1975, and three years later, he wrote a $150,000 check for Apple Computer. He also invested in Cisco Systems and was the networking equipment company’s chairman for three decades.......Unlike other venture capital investors at the time, he played an active role in the companies he backed....Venture capital is often called a “people business,” and many top firms have stumbled as they have tried to pass the reins from one generation to another. But Sequoia survived that transition when Mr. Valentine handed control to Michael Moritz and Doug Leone in the mid-1990s. He continued to attend partner meetings for the next decade. Mr. Valentine evaluated start-ups by their ability to answer the question “Who cares?”.........Mr. Valentine explained one element of his success. “The key to making great investments is to assume that the past is wrong, and to do something that’s not part of the past, to do something entirely differently,” he said.
Don_Valentine  founders  Michael_Moritz  obituaries  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  vc  venture_capital 
october 2019 by jerryking
Winners in Silicon Valley put in the hard yards
October 24, 2019 | | Financial Times | by Michael Moritz 6 HOURS AGO

The genuine formula for success among Silicon Valley's "real companies" are longevity and persistence against all odds. It is no coincidence that the greatest companies to emerge from Silicon Valley and its sister regions in China share hallmarks that are very different from popular perception. These companies are never “overnight sensations”, and they have usually had plenty of close encounters of the worst kind.

Their founders will not be leading the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Instead, they will be strapped to the mast displaying single-minded devotion to their business, jealous of every minute that is not associated with the welfare and sustenance of their company.

Their reading lists will be long; they will be voracious in their willingness to learn from others; harbour insatiable curiosity; display a fetching mixture of supreme confidence and humility; and have a keen understanding of how to make the impossible possible.

They will also adopt healthy corporate habits in their early days, have a sound appreciation for how their company will become profitable and refuse to pursue a strategy for growth come what may. They will pay keen attention to unit economics, operating expenses, cash balances, positive cash flows and dilution. The founders of the flagship technology companies of the past 50 years — Intel, Cisco, Qualcomm, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, Alibaba and Tencent — have all shared these traits and that is true for today’s best privately held companies.......In the technology world, fatuous slogans, broken promises, unlaced basketball shoes and black turtlenecks can only get you so far. It is then that the absence of a sound business model suddenly becomes evident. It is then that heaps of protective voting rights melt away. It is then that people understand gravity has not been repealed and that patience is the best way to build what you want. That’s the life of the persistent majority.
business_models  character_traits  dotcom  founders  hard_work  illusions  Juul  ksfs  longevity  Michael_Moritz  persistence  Silicon_Valley  reading  Sequoia  single-minded_focus  start_ups  WeWork 
october 2019 by jerryking
Michael Moritz, the tech investor backing books
March 1, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters.

Michael Moritz, the biggest individual investor in funds managed by Sequoia Capital, the blue-chip venture capital firm where he has worked since 1986. Forbes estimates his wealth at $3.4bn, but Moritz himself puts it “a bit higher”.

Some of that wealth was put to work this week when Crankstart, the charity he set up with his wife, Harriet Heyman, agreed to provide financial backing for the Booker Prize, one of the top awards for English language fiction, for the next five years......Moritz continues to court controversy, writing approvingly in the Financial Times of the relentless pace of Chinese tech start-ups, where workers put in so many hours they barely see their children. He contrasted them with “soul-sapping” debates about work/life balance in the US, calling them “concerns of a society that is coming unhinged”.

It is tempting to ascribe his success as an investor to tireless networking, luck and timing....entrepreneur Randy Adams tipped him off to Yahoo, which was creating one of the first web indices. That led him to Google. He took over leadership of Sequoia from Don Valentine — one of Silicon Valley’s first start-up investors — in the mid-1990s.

The firm then moved well beyond its venture capital roots, setting up arms to manage family endowments and handle public market investments. While he was at the helm, it became the most successful foreign start-up investor in China. “We understood that the world had changed and that Silicon Valley was not going to be the centre of the universe for the next 50 years,”....he still works full time making investments and sits on 10 corporate boards.

Through Crankstart, Sir Michael and his wife have made substantial gifts to education, including £75m in 2012 to fund scholarships for the poorest students at Oxford university, where he was an undergraduate. He said that the financial support his father had been given after fleeing Nazi Germany as a teenager was his motivation.....After funding some of the world’s most disruptive companies, it might seem perverse that Sir Michael is now backing something as traditional as a literary prize. But he says: “Like music and video, I think the future is brighter than the past.” Printed book sales are rising again, and audio books allow readers to consume them in new forms. “The novel is the underpinning of many forms of entertainment,” he says. “I don’t think anyone’s lost their appetite for good storytelling.”
books  charities  contrarians  Don_Valentine  fiction  Google  investors  Man_Booker  Michael_Moritz  Oxford  novels  philanthropy  prizes  Richard_Waters  Sequoia  sponsorships  venture_capital  vc  Yahoo 
march 2019 by jerryking
Yes, It's a Tech Bubble. Here's What You Need to Know
SEPTEMBER 2015 ISSUE | | Inc.com | BY JEFF BERCOVICI.

"Investors change priorities. Soon, they may be telling you, 'We want to see profitability at the expense of growth.' So you need to think about the levers you can pull to make that happen." (JCK- How does redirect from a growth mindset and plans to one of profitability?--Scott Kupor)

First, there will be some upside. Sky-high home and office rents in certain cities and neighborhoods will drop, and if you're not in the market yet, you'll have a great buying opportunity. If you're hiring, the drum-tight talent market for anyone with programming skills should loosen up considerably, although big companies may reap the benefits more than small ones, says Oliver Ryan, founder of the tech recruiting firm Lab 8 Ventures. "The 'war' for engineering talent is primarily a supply-and-demand issue, so a widespread pullback of venture capital would likely diminish demand to a point," he says.......a burst bubble could also create new types of adversity. ....suppliers and distribution partners may disappear, your business notwithstanding......money is time, and the best way to ride out a downturn is with a couple of years' worth of cash stashed in your mattress. Just be sure you're prepared to deliver a couple of extra years' worth of growth, because you'll need to if you follow the raise-more-than-you-need plan. "It's not without risk," .... "You'll have to make the numbers to justify your valuation at some point, so you're raising the hurdle on yourself."......To make it over the chasm, you have to show investors traction and momentum--a PowerPoint slide with a line pointing up and to the right. A startup can often manufacture these things by spending enough on advertising and customer acquisition. But the attributes so richly rewarded in the current environment aren't necessarily the same ones that will be selected for once the bubble bursts......In October 2008, Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital gave a famous presentation titled "R.I.P. Good Times," in which he counseled entrepreneurs to squirrel away their nuts for winter and "spend every dollar as if it was your last." In hindsight Leone's forecast, and his warning was seen as alarmist......be more careful about the terms on which you raise money as that "extreme end of a cycle" approaches. Typically, you'll seek the highest possible valuation: (a) It minimizes dilution and generates publicity that attracts talent and clients and even more capital. But as valuations settle--and the inevitable rise of interest rates all but guarantees they will--founders who overreached will struggle to support, or defend, those valuations. In the worst instances, if you finagled an extra 10 or 20 % of paper value by granting investors aggressive downside protections--the "features" and "ratchets" that VCs use to make reckless bets without incurring real risk--you'll find yourself downgraded from owner to employee. "
boom-to-bust  bubbles  downside  economic_cycles  economic_downturn  founders  growth  investors  mindsets  overreach  profitability  priorities  pullbacks  recessions  Sequoia  start_ups  Silicon_Valley  silver_linings  upside  vc  venture_capital  war_for_talent 
october 2016 by jerryking
Inside Sequoia Capital: Silicon Valley's Innovation Factory - Forbes
George Anders ,   CONTRIBUTOR
I write about innovation, careers and unforgettable personalities.

This story appears in the April 14, 2014
Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  profiles  Michael_Moritz  hustle  Doug_Leone  George_Anders 
july 2016 by jerryking
Europe should forget Google and investigate its own shortcomings — FT.com
APRIL 22, 2016 | FT | by Michael Moritz

There’s nothing new about this strain of anti-Americanism running rampant in Brussels. Some of its intellectual roots stretch back 50 years to Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, the French publisher and journalist, who tried to galvanise Europeans into countering the threat from across the Atlantic with the publication, in 1967, of The American Challenge. Its echoes can be heard in this week’s press conferences in Brussels. Forget the fact that American ingenuity and daring has brought to hundreds of millions of Europeans phones cheaper and more powerful than the supercomputers of the 1970s, thousands of films and TV shows that can be streamed at the touch of a button, free text-messaging services, books that are delivered overnight and thousands of comfortable cars that can be summoned at a moment’s notice.

Rather than pointing across the Atlantic and seeking scapegoats, the Commissioners who have just launched another fusillade against one of their favourite American bogeymen may want to start a series of investigations into Europe’s own shortcomings. This may be a more fruitful exercise than reigniting the spent flames of the 1960s.
1967  Michael_Moritz  Google  Facebook  Silicon_Valley  anti-Americanism  monopolies  Europe  EU  shortcomings  Sequoia  ingenuity  daring 
may 2016 by jerryking
Why tech booms are good but do not last - FT.com
INSIDE BUSINESS September 3, 2015 6:14 pm
Why tech booms are good but do not last
Richard Waters
Silicon_Valley  bubbles  Sequoia  Andreessen_Horowitz  Richard_Waters 
september 2015 by jerryking
The Mind of Marc Andreessen - The New Yorker
MAY 18, 2015 | New Yorker | BY TAD FRIEND.

Doug Leone, one of the leaders of Sequoia Capital, by consensus Silicon Valley’s top firm, said, “The biggest outcomes come when you break your previous mental model. The black-swan events of the past forty years—the PC, the router, the Internet, the iPhone—nobody had theses around those. So what’s useful to us is having Dumbo ears.”* A great V.C. keeps his ears pricked for a disturbing story with the elements of a fairy tale. This tale begins in another age (which happens to be the future), and features a lowborn hero who knows a secret from his hardscrabble experience. The hero encounters royalty (the V.C.s) who test him, and he harnesses magic (technology) to prevail. The tale ends in heaping treasure chests for all, borne home on the unicorn’s back....Marc Andreessen is tomorrow’s advance man, routinely laying out “what will happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty years,” as if he were glancing at his Google calendar. He views his acuity as a matter of careful observation and extrapolation, and often invokes William Gibson’s observation “The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.”....Andreessen applies a maxim from his friend and intellectual sparring partner Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in LinkedIn and Yelp. When a reputable venture firm leads two consecutive rounds of investment in a company, Andreessen told me, Thiel believes that that is “a screaming buy signal, and the bigger the markup on the last round the more undervalued the company is.” Thiel’s point, which takes a moment to digest, is that, when a company grows extremely rapidly, even its bullish V.C.s, having recently set a relatively low value on the previous round, will be slightly stuck in the past. The faster the growth, the farther behind they’ll be....When a16z began, it didn’t have even an ersatz track record to promote. So Andreessen and Horowitz consulted on tactics with their friend Michael Ovitz, who co-founded the Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, in 1974. Ovitz told me that he’d advised them to distinguish themselves by treating the entrepreneur as a client: “Take the long view of your platform, rather than a transactional one. Call everyone a partner, offer services the others don’t, and help people who aren’t your clients. Disrupt to differentiate by becoming a dream-execution machine.”
Marc_Andreessen  Andreessen_Horowitz  Silicon_Valley  transactional_relationships  venture_capital  vc  Peter_Thiel  long-term  far-sightedness  Sequoia  mindsets  observations  partnerships  listening  insights  Doug_Leone  talent_representation  CAA  mental_models  warning_signs  signals  beforemath  unevenly_distributed  low_value  extrapolations  acuity  professional_service_firms  Michael_Ovitz  execution  William_Gibson 
may 2015 by jerryking
Sequoia Capital Invests in Berlin Start-Up - NYTimes.com
November 12, 2013 | NYT | By MARK SCOTT.

6Wunderkinder offers a free service, but it charges a premium to users who want additional functionality, like task-sharing between large groups.
Sequoia  venture_capital  vc  Germany  Berlin  cosmopolitan  start_ups  6Wunderkinder 
november 2013 by jerryking
Venture Firms Build Own Software to Gain an Edge - WSJ.com
May 22, 2013 | WSJ | By EVELYN M. RUSLI.

Sequoia is one of a growing number of Silicon Valley venture-capital firms now creating proprietary software to gain an edge in the increasingly competitive industry.

Some are creating apps to scout potential deals by aggregating data across the Web and their community of companies. Others are building software—like Grove, named after clusters of sequoia trees—to help grow companies they have already invested in.
venture_capital  vc  Sequoia  slight_edge  Silicon_Valley  mobile_applications  data_driven  trends  proprietary  software  internal_systems  investors 
may 2013 by jerryking
In search of up-and-comers: some principles to follow
02 Dec 1995 | The Globe and Mail pg. B.18.| Gary Lamphier.

IMAGINE investing in technology stars such as California's 3Com or Ottawa's Istar Internet - last week's market darling on the Toronto Stock Exchange - long before they've gone public and other investors have jumped aboard.

That's the game venture capitalists play as they scour obscure industry publications and trade shows, attend endless conferences and swap gossip with entrepreneurs in search of tomorrow's success stories.
(1) Most want to see company principals put their money where their mouth is by investing in their own companies. Otherwise, no deal.
(2) The market that the startup company plans to sell its product into must be big and getting bigger.
(3) Any start-up company that hopes to prosper must have exceptionally strong management, the pros agree.
(4) Successful companies breed successful companies.
Sequoia  Michael_Moritz  venture_capital  vc  Kleiner_Perkins  start_ups  rules_of_the_game  large_markets  teams  skin_in_the_game  unglamorous 
july 2012 by jerryking
The Young & Restless of Technology Finance
November 1993| The Red Herring | Anthony B. Perkins.

We think that marketing is everything. We try to help our companies figure out what is going to set them apart. We encourage companies to define their biggest risks-up front, work hard to put the risks behind them, and then move forward with very innovative marketing...During the interview process, you see whether entrepreneurs have passion and tenacity. The hardest thing to determine is their ability to stick-to-it. Entrepreneurs need to be very dynamic, wi11ing to adjust. And that's why an important part of our process is checking references, we have to be convinced the entrepreneur has never give up, even when things get tough. In other words, when Plan A work, because Plan A never works, we like to hear entrepreneurs say "That's O.K.,Plan B is on its way. I've twisted this valve and turned this knob and I really think we've figured it out." What we don't like to hear is "Well,it didn't work out...sorry." We also like to see entrepreneurs who are singularly focused on building -great products that fill distinct market needs. We are less interested in people who like nice digs, hype,and PR.

Moritz: ‘We have a very tight on making sure there is a sizable market opportunity in front. of us before we make an investment. We are much more focused on market growth potential and the ability for a company to reach a market successfully and profitably. We have also demonstrated as a firm and individually the ability to get companies off the ground with a small amount of fuel. We like to start wicked infernos with a single match rather than two million gallons of kerosene. This is clearly a differentiated way of getting a company put together. This approach has terrific benefits for the people who start the companies and for all our limited partners. You might say that we have a morbid fascination with our ROI, as opposed no the amount of dollars we put to work. And this is a very different message than you get from a lot of other venture firms.
The: HERRING: How often does a Sequoia partner actually go in and help operate a company?

Moritz: Pierre is the great unsung hero of Cisco Systems. He spent a tremendous amount of time at the company. working behind the scenes helping to make sure the engineering department was designing and getting new products to market. People don't realize the significant contribution Pierre made to Cisco because Don's name is on the hubcaps as the chairman of the company. The ability we have to help operate companies is a useful tool in our arsenal.

The HERRING: Sequoia's image on the streets of Silicon Valley is that you are the Los Angeles Raiders of venture capital--the tough guys who are quicker than the other firms to boot the CEO or pull the financial plug.
Moritz: We are congenitally incapable of pouring good money after bad. Some people. for their own will thrust us into a position to be harbingers of bad new to management, which is all right. But we do not want to continue propping up a company if we think its chances for success have evaporated. We would be wasting our money as individuals and wasting the money of our limited partners. There have been very few instances where we decided to stop funding a company and have regretted it.
The HERRING: What ’s the hardest part of your job?
Moritz: We usually don't make mistakes when it comes to assessing market opportunity. And we are reasonably accurate in predicting how long it will take to bring a product to market. The great imponderable is to judge accurately and predict how well a president is going to be able to run the business. It is easy to mistake the facade for reality
The HERRING: ‘What characteristics does Sequoia look for in a company president?
Moritz: Frugality, competitiveness. confidence, and paranoia.
venture_capital  vc  howto  Kleiner_Perkins  Sequoia  career_paths  Michael_Moritz  no_regrets  endurance  frugality  competitiveness  paranoia  self-confidence  market_sizing  market_windows  team_risk  market_opportunities  ambitions  large_markets  sticktoitiveness  entrepreneur  perseverance  indispensable  Plan_B  off-plan  champions  reference-checking  unknowns  assessments_&_evaluations  opportunities  unsentimental  wishful_thinking  illusions  overambitious 
july 2012 by jerryking
ASAP Interview_Don Valentine
Forbes ASAP | by Rich Karlgaard.

The great thing about evaluating markets first is that usually there are very poor data sources. So you have to create these scraps of information and most people don't do that--they prefer to make a judgement on some other basis, whether the product is patentable, whether the technology is differentiated, whether the people are world class. To us, you can scrape and push and dig and find out tidbits of information which when you put them together, you get a conviction about when something will happen. You talk to people in distribution, you talk to all the sources of information that you can, and you make a judgment....Are you solving a problem? Are there great installations of incompatibility that need to be linked? Who cares about this product? and do they care with a time frame that's important to us--eight years, the length of a fund?...To me, the most important person in management beyond the president has always been the sales manager. I want to meet and get comfortable with the guy who is going to create the backlog. This is different that marketing. Marketing runs the company, as it should, but it is the sales department that creates the orders and creates the cash-flow. So the sales manager is always a very important character to me, much more important that a log of other people. They must be relentless, driven and have enormous energy. Winning is terribly important to them, Where we've had great successes with companies, we've had great sales managers. Where we've had mediocre success with companies, we've had mediocre sakes managers. Nothing happens if you don't get a backlog.
Sequoia  Don_Valentine  Rich_Karlgaard  due_diligence  sleuthing  information_sources  sales  tacit_data  scuttlebutt  incompatibilities  primary_field_research 
june 2012 by jerryking
Don Valentine, Venture Capitalist - Forbes
12/09/2005 @ 10:59AM |149 views
Don Valentine, Venture Capitalist
Rich Karlgaard Rich Karlgaard,

Most VCs say they invest, first and foremost, in people. Technology and markets are secondary considerations. The thinking goes: “A” people will know how to find “A” technology and “A” markets.

Valentine rejects that. He bets on markets that are ready to explode. Deep in his salesman’s bones, Valentine knew the market for microcomputers (Apple), databases (Oracle) and routers (Cisco) would go nuclear before other investors did.
Don_Valentine  Rich_Karlgaard  Sequoia  large_markets  teams  high-growth 
june 2012 by jerryking
Trip Hawkins Blog: DON VALENTINE
September 3rd, 2009 | blog.digitalchocolate.com | by Trip Hawkins
Don_Valentine  Sequoia  Kleiner_Perkins  Apple  Steve_Jobs 
may 2011 by jerryking
THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS OF TECHNOLOGY FINANCE
31 October 1993 | Red Herring | Staff. What makes a good venture capitalist?
Sequoia  Michael_Moritz  Kleiner_Perkins  venture_capital 
february 2010 by jerryking
The Internet Report
February 1996 | Morgan Stanley U.S. Investment Research pg. 41 |
by assorted writers. When looking for investment ideas in new markets,
we default to our favorite maxims from Don Valentine of Sequoia Capital,
who is known as one of the toughest and smartest technology venture
capitalists in Silicon Valley. Don follows several simple rules in
choosing early-stage tech investments: (1) Find “monster” markets that
can be really big, like the Internet; (2) find good technology and good
technologists who can stay ahead of competitive threats; (3) find
outstanding leaders/management teams that can drive the technologies and
markets forward; and 4) buy companies, not products, and try to find
companies that have achieved critical mass with their products — or can
achieve it, and can create some form of “barriers to entry.”
barriers_to_entry  buying_a_business  critical_mass  Don_Valentine  engineering  good_enough  high-growth  investors  large_markets  leaders  Mary_Meeker  Morgan_Stanley  rules_of_the_game  Sequoia  teams  technology  vc  venture_capital  filetype:pdf  media:document 
february 2010 by jerryking
The Curse of the Unexpected
12.01.97 | Forbes Magazine |

I GREW UP IN WALES. Its difficult to imagine a place more removed from Silicon Valley and information technology than South Wales. Access to technology there seemed as remote as access to the back side of Mars. My first step was to come to America. After that it was like a homing instinct. I was attracted to the West Coast and gravitated there. I came upon Silicon Valley almost by accident.

I was working for Time at its San Francisco bureau in the early 1980s. That was right near the time when the first personal computer was introduced, so there were lots of stories being done on Silicon Valley companies. Before then I didn't really know what a venture capitalist was. I hadn't heard the term. But I began to run into venture capitalists and started to understand what they did.

Of course, I had no idea how big this would all become. I remember talking to Steve Jobs in the early days of Apple. Apple was probably a $300 million to $400 million company, and Jobs said he didn't see any reason why Apple couldn't be a $10 billion company. I thought he was smoking some strange form of weed.

We don't even use technology very much in our business. We rarely use anything more complicated than the back of an envelope to make a calculation. The computer has become more of a communication tool than a computing tool. Losing it would be like losing the phone. Business is judging and thinking, and reacting to people. It was the same before computers came along.

Every now and then, were reminded that some technology just isn't needed. On a few occasions we've invested in companies because they made some sort of technological gadgets or gizmos that we thought we would like to own and buy, either at the office or at home -- and they've been failures. For example, years ago we invested in a company that was at the dawn of the PC business. It was a bridge between word processors and PCs. We ended up with nothing more to show for our investment than half a dozen typewriters around the office that cost us $300,000 apiece.

There's a perverse thrill to being a hamster on the technology treadmill. It's very exciting trying to fight all the battles that a startup has to win to succeed. But information technology isn't a substitute for any of the real pleasures of life. I don't lose sight of the fact that you can still derive a lot of pleasure from taking a walk in the country, riding a bicycle, reading a book in your backyard, having dinner with family and friends. I don't think computers are a substitute for teaching children how to paint, or play the piano, or think for themselves. This technology wont necessarily make my kids lives better. It might just mean they'll get carpal tunnel syndrome a little sooner.

This technology also is having a major impact on the distribution of wealth. Clearly, many people will have access to information more readily than they have in the past. But the notion that you're going to have a computer or a television in a shantytown outside Buenos Aires doesn't make the shantytown any closer to a penthouse apartment. At the end of the day, I think we're building a world economy where wealth is created within a few chosen companies [JCK: essentially, the powerlaw at work in generating unicorns], and most of the wealth is either owned or shared by the people associated with those companies.

Yes, a whole bunch of people will be enabled by what those companies do. But the real wealth will go to the people intimately associated with those entities. And if your kid doesn't go to MIT or Harvard or CalTech, or half a dozen other prestigious places, forget it. They'll be among the permanently dispossessed
Michael_Moritz  Sequoia  powerlaw  venture_capital  unexpected  Silicon_Valley  Steve_Jobs  vc  unevenly_distributed 
february 2010 by jerryking
VC Confidential: Wisdoms of Sequoia's Don Valentine
November 15, 2007 | VC Confidential | by Matt McCall.
"The trouble with the first time entrepreneur is that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. After a failure he does know what he doesn’t know and can beat the hell out of people who still have to learn."

"That's easy. I just follow Moore's Law and make a few guesses about its consequences." (on his success investing in semiconductor plays)

"I got to Silicon Valley in 1959. Nothing is revolutionary; it's evolutionary. Look the sequence of Intel microprocessors. It's all predictable. The nature of silicon and software and storage go hand in hand. In the case of software, you just have to be more clever about the nature of the application. So all these things kind of tick along, feeding off each other"

“All companies that go out of business do so for the same reason - they run out of money.”

"Why did you send me this renegade from the human race?" (comment after meeting Steve Jobs)

"Great markets make great companies."

"I like opportunities that are addressing markets so big that even the management team can't get in its way."

"One of my jobs as a board member has been to counsel management to avoid distraction and to execute with constructive paranoia."
boards_&_directors_&_governance  distractions  Don_Valentine  failure  large_markets  Moore's_Law  paranoia  pretense_of_knowledge  quotes  Sequoia  Steve_Jobs  vc  venture_capital 
january 2010 by jerryking
In the Hunt - Finding the Path to Success by Changing Directions - NYTimes.com
By BRENT BOWERS
Published: September 9, 2009

Andrew Zacharakis, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College
outside Boston, said Scale Computing’s owners followed a classic
entrepreneurial path of shifting gears as necessary to seize real, as
opposed to perceived, opportunities.
entrepreneur  Sequoia  serendipity  serial_entrepreneur  pivots  data_storage  cheap_revolution  massive_data_sets 
december 2009 by jerryking
Google's Banker
May 3, 2004 | Fortune | By Adam Lashinsky.... Valentine also
took a different approach on making investments: He bet on the
racetrack, not the jockey. "... you build great companies by finding
monster markets that are in transition, and you find the people later,"
says Valentine...."But in Moritz, Valentine saw a resemblance to another
precocious go-getter he had observed at close range: Steve Jobs.
"They're both incredibly aggressive questioners," says Valentine. "And
our business is all about figuring out which questions are relevant in
making a decision, because the people who are starting a company (i.e. the founders) don't
have a clue what the answers are."... Valentine's principles: only
targeting businesses with fat margins; avoid capital-intensive
businesses; take measured steps; never underestimate the difficulty of
changing consumer behavior; don't begin a rollout until you're sure the
recipe is working; avoid any business Wall Street is prepared to throw
hundreds of millions of dollars at.
behavioral_change  capital-intensity  consumer_behavior  disequilibriums  Don_Valentine  founders  large_markets  margins  Michael_Moritz  precociousness  questions  rollouts  rules_of_the_game  Sequoia  Steve_Jobs  vc  venture_capital  Wall_Street 
october 2009 by jerryking
Two new voices in the Valley
28 Sep 2006 | FINANCIAL TIMES | By Chris Nuttall in San
Francisco. Tips: (1) Start out with sufficient funding; (2)
Distribution is everything; (3) Focus.
entrepreneurship  venture_capital  VoIP  relocation  Sequoia  Chris_Nuttall  Michael_Moritz  funding  Jajah 
march 2009 by jerryking
Submit A Business Plan
Advice from Sequioa Capital on creating a business plan.
business_planning  Sequoia 
february 2008 by jerryking

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