Look Who Sequoia Bankrolls: The Top 13 Investments

Posted: Mar 26 2014, 8:54am CDT | by


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Look Who Sequoia Bankrolls: These 13 Tech Titans Stand Out
Photo Credit: Forbes

Over the years, Sequoia Capital has bankrolled a long list of legendary Silicon Valley companies, starting with Apple, Cisco Systems and Yahoo — and going on to include disruptive new dynamos such as WhatsApp, Airbnb and Dropbox. Most of the time, Sequoia’s list of top investments is just that: a list. But on a recent Thursday evening, the venture firm’s connections to a quarter-century of emorable company founders came to life.

The setting: Tesla Motors’ giant factory in Hayward, Calif. Striding through the factory’s doors: a dozen tech titans, ranging from Cisco CEO John Chambers to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum. Their host: Tesla’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, who in 1999 used $5 million from Sequoia to help build what became PayPal.

Within a few minutes, all 13 tech pioneers were posing for a formal photo of Sequoia’s titans. That photo would become the cover of this year’s Midas List issue of FORBES magazine. But with Tesla’s factory in full swing for its evening production shift, no one was in a hurry to leave.

Surrounded by gleaming car chassis and methodical robots, everyone took a few more minutes to talk shop, share ideas — and snap a selfie or two. The picture below captures the attendees’ light-hearted energy after the official photo shoot was finished. Captions for each executive appear below the picture, identified from left to right.

1. Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo. A venture capitalist now and vice chair of Stanford’s board of trustees. Built a $2.1 billion fortune as founder of Yahoo.

2. Chad Hurley, co-founder of YouTube. Sold YouTube in 2006; he praises Google for keeping the company on a fast growth track ever since. Launched video editing company MixBit in 2013.

3. Julia Hartz, president and co-founder of Eventbrite. Ticket-selling champ: Some 2.9 million bands, theaters and Webinar performers use her technology to get patrons’ business.

4. Jan Koum, founder and CEO of WhatsApp. The messaging company’s pending sale to Facebook will net him $6.8 billion. He still uses frequent-flier miles; that might change.

5. Max Levchin, former chief technology officer of PayPal. An active advisor to Sequoia, he was feted last year with a garish plaid jacket (like the Masters’) to salute all he’d done for the firm.

6. Reid Hoffman, chairman of LinkedIn. Stanford philosophy major and active VC at Greylock, worth $3.6 billion. Suggested motto: I link, therefore I am.

7. Arash Ferdowsi, cofounder of Dropbox. An MIT dropout, built first computer at age 10. Agreed to set up Dropbox just hours after meeting cofounder Drew Houston.

8. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco. Silicon Valley’s iron man, now in his 19th year running Cisco. He says Sequoia founder Don Valentine told him: Make lots of acquisitions; “just don’t mess up the first few.”

9. Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb. Disrupting the hotel industry. His newest financing will value Airbnb at $10 billion, ahead of both Hyatt and Wyndham.

10. Elon Musk, CEO and founder of Tesla Motors and Space X. Worked with Sequoia when he built what became PayPal. During a break in the photo shoot, he briefed Jerry Yang on aluminum vs. steel compression ratios in car manufacturing.

11. Adi Tatarko, cofounder of Houzz. Sequoia loves businesses built on their founders’ needs. She wanted better home decorating ideas; Houzz delivers them to millions.

12. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram. He turned down a job at Facebook in 2005. Wise call: He made far more in 2012 selling Instagram to Facebook for $1 billion.

13. Fred Luddy, founder of ServiceNow An engineer who loves to build things: He shed the CEO role at ServiceNow a few years ago because “I didn’t want to be in meetings all day.”

Source: Forbes

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