South African steps up at top Silicon Valley VC firm

South African-born Roelof Botha has been promoted to one of the three stewards of Sequoia Capital. Botha joins the stewardship along with current partners Doug Leone and Neil Shen.

He takes over from Jim Goetz, who held the position for 13 years.

Even though the position brings with it more responsibilities, Botha has been running the U.S. division of Sequoia Capital with Goetz since 2007.

Before joining the VC, Botha was the chief financial officer (CFO) at PayPal from 2000 to 2003. He later sat on the board of directors for the likes of YouTube and Evernote, was a business partner in Instagram, and more.

He is also on the board of directors at Unity Technology, a development technology primarily used to develop video games.

Sequoia Capital is known for investments in high-profile U.S. tech companies, which include Apple, Dropbox, Electronics Arts, and Google. It also has investments in China, India, and Israel.

One of the firm’s largest investments was in the instant messaging app, WhatsApp, of which it was the sole investor and invested US$60-million in the startup. During Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp (valued at US$22-billion), Sequoia Capital made a US$3.5-billion return on the deal.

Botha is the son of Roelof Botha, a long-time advisor to PWC, and grandson of former SA Foreign Minister, “Pik” Botha.

Goetz wrote a letter to Sequoia Capital’s investors, which you can release below (original source unknown):

Subject: Time to pay it forward

Disruption is at the heart of our business. It’s what creates opportunities for Sequoia entrepreneurs, and it’s what helps them produce extraordinary returns for our L.P.s. Ironically, it’s also the force that many venture capital firms resist, often contributing to their own decline.

Sequoia is the exception.

Over the past 45 years, starting with Don Valentine, Sequoia has embraced change as much within our partnership as outside it. That willingness to renew and reinvent — often by empowering the less experienced among us — has been the foundation of our success. I am deeply indebted to Doug and Sir Michael for the trust they placed in me, first as a Sequoia-backed entrepreneur, later as co-lead of the venture business, and more recently as a Sequoia Steward. Implicit in that arc is an obligation to pay it forward to the next generation. That time has come.

During the coming week, I plan to step aside from my leadership responsibilities. I do so with great confidence in this next generation of leaders. They represent a gifted cohort who bleed Sequoia, and their fresh ideas will spur the next wave of reinvention. More to come on these well-deserved changes from Doug.

To ensure a smooth transition and encourage change, I am going to decamp from the Menlo office for a few months. I will remain a GP in existing funds and continue to represent Sequoia on boards. When I return, I intend to sponsor new investments but I plan to reduce my workload, so that I can start saying “yes” to some of the other aspects of my life that have been on hold over the past twenty years.

Forever grateful.




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