New ‘steward’ at iconic Sofina partner

Sequoia Capital, the Californian long-term partner of the Belgian investment company Sofina, has a new boss. South African Roelof Botha succeeds 64-year-old billionaire Doug Leone.

Don’t say ‘global managing partner’ to the new leader, but say ‘senior steward’. According to Leone, 48-year-old Botha will set ‘the general tone’ at Sequoia Capital from July. Botha will also be responsible for oversight, finance and culture at the company.

It’s only the third time the venture capitalist leadership has changed since its founding in 1972 by an industry pioneer, Don Valentine. Headquartered in California’s Menlo Park, Sequoia has grown into an iconic investor with success stories such as Apple, Google, Cisco and Zoom.

The essence

  • Roelof Botha, 48, will become the leader of Sequoia Capital, a leading California venture capitalist, in July.
  • Botha led investments in successful companies such as Instagram, YouTube and Block.
  • He also urged Sequoia to set up a large ‘permanent’ fund, which is not tied to exits after ten years.

Until now, Botha led the company’s operations in the US and Europe as a managing partner. He will continue to do so. Sequoia has recently expanded in Europe and opened an office in London last year. The investment decisions continue to be made in the countries concerned. The regional managers participate in the profit in proportion to the profit contribution of their region.

Botha’s power is much more limited in China and India. There rules another steward, Neil Shen.

Botha’s power is much more limited in China and India. There rules another steward, Neil Shen. He is involved with large Chinese companies such as ByteDance, known for TikTok, the shopping platform Meituan and the platform for agricultural products Pinduoduo. Despite the political squabbles between China and the US, Sequoia’s Chinese branch continues to seek $8 billion.

Elon Musk

Before joining the venture capitalist in 2003, Botha worked at the payment company PayPal with that other successful South African, Elon Musk. At PayPal, he would make it to financial director. He could stay on with eBay’s takeover of PayPal, but chose to switch to Sequoia.

Botha led the investments in the photo and video platform Instagram and the video service YouTube.

At the venture capitalist, he led the investments in the photo and video platform Instagram, the video service YouTube, the creator of software for game builders Unity, the biotech company 23andME and the software company MongoDB.

Instagram and YouTube were acquired by Facebook (now Meta) and Google respectively, which now belongs under the umbrella of Alphabet. Not all of Botha’s success stories end up as takeover prey. Payment technology specialist Square, now called Block, continues to grow independently.

Permanent fund

Botha is also the driving force behind a ‘permanent fund’, Sequoia Capital Fund, which is expected to manage 10 billion to 20 billion dollars by the end of this year. That fund operates without an ‘expiration date’ for its holdings, as opposed to the industry’s practice of achieving an exit after ten years. The longer maturity allows the fund to benefit more from major success stories in the technology sector.

Leone will continue to serve on the boards of directors of companies in which Sequoia invests and will remain a partner in the funds. ‘We are proud to be the only one venture capitalist who has successfully completed multiple leadership transitions over the past five decades,” said Leone.

Sofina is a long-term partner of Sequoia Capital. Both investors are involved in the recent capital operation of the big data company Collibra of the entrepreneur Felix Van de Maele. But they are also collaborating in India on investments in the successful educational technology specialist Byju.

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