Apr 5, 2022 - Economy

Sequoia Capital has a new leader

A board room table with an $100 bill theme

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A member of the PayPal Mafia will soon lead venture capital's most successful firm.

Driving the news: Sequoia Capital on Monday announced that Roelof Botha will take the reins as "senior steward" on July 5, one day after the 65th birthday of current firm chief Doug Leone.

  • Botha came to Sequoia straight from PayPal in 2003, and led the firm's investments in such companies as Bird, Instagram, Square and YouTube.

Backstory: When Sequoia founder Don Valentine retired in 1996, he asked Leone and fellow Sequoia partner Mike Moritz to assume firm leadership. He'd seen many of his peers stay around too long and retain too much fund economics in exchange for too little contribution. The reason the firm was named Sequoia, rather than Valentine Ventures, was because it was supposed to outlast him and his influence.

  • Leone and Moritz served as senior stewards until 2012, when Moritz stepped back for health reasons. Leone then served in the role alone, with Jim Goetz and Neil Shen as stewards (kind of seconds in command). Goetz was succeeded in 2017 by Botha, who now will take Leone's role. Shen will continue to lead China operations.
  • Sequoia began planning for this transition a few years back, including the hiring of several new roles (global CFO, global COO, etc.) so that Botha would have a limited number of direct reports.
  • Leone will remain on funds where he's a general partner, and retain his current portfolio company board seats. He tells me he then wants "to be a model retired partner, which means I'm there when asked to be there but not someone who volunteers opinions."

Speaking of retirement: Leone insists that he won't be Tom Brady. "I have four kids and seven grandchildren in the Bay Area, picked up golf during COVID and want to spend time doing, as I promised my wife, the little things that sometimes you don't do when you're busy fighting fires at work... those little things can be very important things."

  • He adds that he "finds the word legacy to be dangerous." Instead, Leone says: "I hope my epitaph is that I brought it every day and died a young man, in the sense that I was always open-minded to the next idea."
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