Michael Moritz strikes on, book-ending a protracted chapter at Sequoia Capital


Michael Moritz, the journalist-turned-VC who has lengthy been some of the distinguished and revered traders at Sequoia Capital, has left the agency after 38 years to “deepen his advisory relationship” with Sequoia Heritage, the wealth administration unit he spun up in 2010 with colleague Doug Leone and on whose board he has sat for years.

The transfer is efficient instantly. In a be aware to LPs that we obtained earlier, Sequoia’s international managing companion, Roelof Botha, mentioned Moritz will proceed to symbolize Sequoia Capital at a handful of corporations however that these seats can be “transitioned” to different companions over time.

A supply acquainted with the agency mentioned the event was not socialized throughout the partnership far upfront of its announcement to Sequoia’s traders as a result of Moritz way back relinquished his day-to-day obligations. Indeed, he stepped down from an energetic administration position in 2012, telling traders then that he’d been recognized with a “rare medical condition which can be managed but is incurable” and explaining that he’d been informed that “in the next five to ten years, the quality of my life is quite likely to decline.”

Despite the adjustment, Moritz has continued to be concerned at Sequoia, with a few of his 9 board seats newer than others. For instance, he sits on the board of Getir, the Turkey-based on the spot supply firm that Moritz’s household workplace backed in 2020 earlier than Sequoia wrote the corporate a verify. Others of his board seats embrace Instacart, the U.S.-based supply outfit; Strava, the social community for athletes; Klarna, the Stockholm-based fee outfit that final 12 months accepted new funding at a starkly decrease valuation than the earlier 12 months; and San Francisco-based Stripe, which can show one in all Sequoia’s greatest outcomes so far.

In distinction, when Leone stepped down final 12 months from his position as “Senior Steward” of Sequoia to get replaced by Botha, who was beforehand managing companion of Sequoia’s U.S. and Europe operations, the transfer was roughly two years within the making given the various hats the position requires.

At Sequoia, stepping away is usually an attenuated course of. Leone continues to be a part of each Sequoia’s seed and development groups. So does one other previous supervisor at Sequoia, Jim Goetz, who oversaw Sequoia’s U.S. enterprise with Botha till 2017 and who continues to make new investments for the agency from his perch in Miami, Fl. (Firm founder Don Valentine famously attended companion conferences for 10 years after handing the reins to Moritz and Leone.)

Moritz, nevertheless, won’t be making new investments, and maybe inevitably, that has raised eyebrows in some corners, on condition that Sequoia has undergone a string of different current modifications.

In a piece printed earlier at this time, the Financial Times quotes one enterprise capitalist who has invested alongside Moritz and Sequoia and who reportedly mentioned Moritz’s departure dangers leaving a “leadership gap” at Sequoia. “It’s been a long time coming, but it comes at a bad time.”

The world of startup investing remains to be recovering from years of froth, for one factor. Further, in some of the dramatic strikes in Sequoia’s historical past, the agency — which has loved large success across the globe — introduced early final month that it had determined to interrupt up, with Sequoia’s China and India and Southeast Asia funds relaunching as new corporations: HongShan and Peak XV Partners.

In an interview with Forbes, Botha, together with the corporations’ two different funding heads, Neil Shen and Sailendra Singh, mentioned the choice tied to conflicts between the funds’ respective portfolios and downplayed a geopolitical surroundings that has made it practically unimaginable for U.S. traders to fund China offers particularly and vice versa.

It wasn’t the one large shift for Sequoia. Less than two years in the past, the agency introduced that it was “breaking with the traditional organization” based mostly on fund cycles and restructuring Sequoia Capital round a singular, everlasting construction that might permit it to carry public shares lengthy after a portfolio goes public (versus distributing the shares to its traders) and allow Sequoia to “further increase our investments in emerging asset classes such as cryptocurrencies.”

While over the long run the transfer might show fruitful, its timing proved inauspicious. Roughly six months after it restructured, the broader markets tanked, dragging down the worth of public firm shares that Sequoia’s traders would possibly in any other case have bought. Sequoia additionally suffered a uncommon embarrassment when FTX, the crypto alternate into which Sequoia plugged greater than $200 million, imploded practically in a single day owing to mismanagement.

Partner Alfred Lin informed this editor later that the funding represented an inexpensive quantity from a threat administration perspective when contemplating the $6.3 billion multibillion-dollar fund from which Sequoia’s checks had been written. But a growth-stage investor who labored with Lin on that deal, Michelle Fradin, has since left Sequoia in quest of an working position.

And there have been different departures. Two earlier traders, Kais Khimji and Daniel Chen, have left to spin up two completely different AI corporations, each of them backed by Sequoia. (Sequoia has a historical past of backing its personal traders, together with Nubank founder David Vélez.) Also gone: Mike Vernal, a former Facebook VP who joined Sequoia as a companion in 2016 and who’s taking day off till the tip of this 12 months, in accordance with a supply acquainted with Vernal’s plans.

Vernal had a extra senior position in contrast with the others, together with to assist oversee Sequoia’s “scout” program, whereby founders in its portfolio and their pals are given the power to jot down checks from Sequoia and to share in any later rewards. Now, longtime companions Bryan Schreier and Jess Lee oversee this system together with Ian Taylor, who joined Sequoia final summer season after spending three years with the seed-stage agency Pear VC.

Dealbook reported first on Moritz’s departure; The Information reported first on the departures of Vernal, Khimji, Chen, and Fradin.

Like any agency of its measurement and attain, Sequoia has additionally been hiring new expertise. Earlier this 12 months, David Cahn agreed to hitch Sequoia Capital as a companion on its development staff after spending greater than 5 years with Coatue Management. Sequoia extra lately poached a principal from Accel — Julien Bek — who joined its rising London-based apply.

In the meantime, Moritz received’t be touring far to spend time with the staff at Sequoia Heritage, which was seeded by $150 million from Moritz’s personal cash, $150 million from Leone, and $250 million from outdoors traders who they introduced in.

Run by head traders Keith Johnson and Kevin Kelly, the separate authorized entity holds workplace house in the identical constructing as Sequoia Capital. Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Sequoia’s hedge fund unit, additionally has an workplace there.

According to a current Bloomberg piece, Heritage was designed to work carefully with Sequoia however has all the time retained the suitable to make its personal funding selections. It has made some good selections, evidently; its property beneath administration reportedly grew from $4.2 billion in April 2018 to $16.4 billion as of this previous April.

As for Sequoia Capital’s property, that are separate from Sequoia Heritage and Sequoia Capital Global Equities, they’ve been trending down together with the broader startup market. As flagged by Bloomberg, these property lately stood at $55.58 billion, per an SEC submitting, in contrast with $85 billion on the finish of 2021.

Below is Botha’s letter to traders, despatched out early this morning:

We are writing to tell you that Michael Moritz will go away Sequoia Capital after practically 38 years with the Partnership, efficient July 19, 2023. We are immensely grateful for all of Michael’s contributions. He helped set up Sequoia as one of many main know-how funding teams on the earth, each as a pacesetter of the agency for twenty years and thru his illustration of the Partnership in corporations like Yahoo!, PayPal, Google, Zappos, Instacart, Stripe, and Klarna, to call a couple of.

Michael intends to deepen his advisory relationship with Sequoia Heritage, an unbiased enterprise the place he has been a founding restricted companion and Board member since 2010. Sequoia Heritage is now a $15B international fund with investments in a diversified vary of property and partnerships and homes a big portion of the property of Crankstart, the household basis of Michael and his spouse, Harriet Heyman, in addition to investments from many different members of the larger Sequoia group.

Michael relinquished day-to-day administration of Sequoia greater than a decade in the past however, since then, has supplied help and counsel to the Partnership.

Michael will proceed to symbolize Sequoia’s pursuits in a handful of corporations the place we now have all loved long-standing relationships with founders and CEOs. Over time, we are going to companion with portfolio corporations to easily transition Sequoia board seats at the moment occupied by Michael.

Sequoia Capital wouldn’t be what it’s at this time with out Michael. More personally, he formed my profession, taking an opportunity on me as CFO of PayPal after which recruiting me to Sequoia in 2003. He has been, and can proceed to be, a mentor and an inspiration to me and numerous others.


Roelof on behalf of Team Sequoia


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