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October 19, 2014

Doug Leone of Sequoia on Indian VC

Economic Times has an interesting interview with Sequoia Capital's Silicon Valley-based partner Douglas (Doug) Leone on the firm's investments in India and elsewhere. Extracts (emphasis mine):

On why Sequoia is sitting out the Indian e-commerce gold rush (for the most part):
It is clear that online retail is a large topline market; it is yet to be proven if it is going to be a profitable bottom-line market. We have chosen not to participate because we understood that it is going to play out this way. I heard Bezos was here writing a $2 billion cheque. We like companies that can get big and powerful on $50 million or less and not two, three, four or five billion. Times may change, we may like to participate. We are investors in Alibaba, but we don't want to go at a time when we know that after us billions of dollars (more) have to be raised.
On being a VC:
We like founders that are very determined, people whom conventional wisdom will (term) as: "They're tough to work with, they're difficult." Those are terrific traits. (Apple founder) Steve Jobs was not an easy guy to get along with. We like people with a desire to win, to change the world. These are very clear thinkers, because if you do not articulate things clearly, you probably are not a clear thinker. So we listen very carefully. Investment is a listening business. It's not about making money, it's about changing the world.
The latest bubble in Silicon Valley:
Nervously exuberant. I think Silicon Valley is little bit confused now. Three months ago, it was "go" at all costs, now a few people have come up and are saying why are these companies spending this much? These are unstable times. Should a company grow if they are losing money? Even public market analysts are confused about that. I think the 2015 version of 1999 is not going to be companies without a business model, it is going to be companies where investors valued it worth X and they are going to be worth a subset of that X. And the burn rates have to drastically come down if they have to survive.

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