Learning from Sequoia Capital

(B) After the successful IPOs of SnowFlake, Unity, and Sumo Logic, CNBC has published an article about Sequoia Capital “Silicon Valley’s most prominent VC firm had a banner week: $9 billion in IPO shares while helping TikTok negotiations“. Sequoia’s holdings in those three companies are worth about $9 billion as of Friday September 18th, 2020.

Blogger Tren Griffin wrote an article “A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Don Valentine (the founder of Sequoia) about Venture Capital and Business“. My favorite lessons from Valentine is the following one, be always ready to invest in the future with completely new eyes:

“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. I asked what was the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done, knowing in my heart of hearts that I’d pick the one who’d done something most outrageous.”

“What is important is to have the ability and willingness to be different. Great companies are built with different products by different people.”

To make a dent in the universe, it will be necessary to be contrarian on something very important and be right about that contrarian view in a big way. This is true both in investing and in building a business. No one speaks more clearly on this point than Howard Marks. I’ve blogged about that here. No one has taught me more about this than Craig McCaw, who is about a different a thinker as I have ever met. Don Valentine’s partner Michael Mortiz said once: “While there is danger in the venture business in getting too far away from the crowd, it can often pay to be unconventional. Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia Capital, told me to trust my instincts, which lets you avoid getting dragged into conventional thinking and trying to please others.

Note: The picture above is my apple tree in my garden.

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