Wisdoms of Sequoia’s Don Valentine

Over the years, Don Valentine (founder of Sequoia Capital) has had quite a few memorable quotes. He was the original investor behind successes like Apple, Cisco, EA and Oracle and is known to never mince words.  After coming across one of his quotes the other day, I used Google to chase down an array of others as listed below:

"The trouble with the first time entrepreneur is that he doesn’t know
what he doesn’t know. After a failure he does know what he doesn’t know
and can beat the hell out of people who still have to learn."

"That’s easy. I just follow Moore’s Law and make a few guesses about its consequences." (on his success investing in semiconductor plays)

"I got to Silicon Valley in 1959. Nothing is revolutionary; it’s
evolutionary. Look the sequence of Intel microprocessors. It’s all
predictable. The nature of silicon and software and storage go hand in
hand. In the case of software, you just have to be more clever about
the nature of the application. So all these things kind of tick along,
feeding off each other"

“All companies that go out of business do so for the same reason – they run out of money.”

"Why did you
send me this renegade from the human race?" (comment after meeting Steve Jobs)

"Great markets make great companies."

"I like opportunities that are addressing markets so big that even the management team can’t get in its way." 

30 years we haven’t convinced ourselves to set up a presence in Boston.
It’s a very difficult business to be good at consistently over a long
period of time, and it requires a lot of thoughtful and integrated
decision-making….”We make enough mistakes on investments we make here
(in Silicon Valley), that we’re not comfortable we can (be successful)
3,000 miles away, never mind 8,000 miles away.”

"I am 100% behind my CEOs right up till the day I fire them."

"The world of technology thrives best when individuals are left alone to be different, creative, and disobedient."

"One of my jobs as a board member has been to counsel management to avoid distraction and to execute with constructive paranoia."

“I’ve always been mystified by the
critically important disc drive industry, without which the PC is a
useless device. You have to be brilliant in electronics, you have to be
brilliant in magnetics and you have to be brilliant in mechanics to get
all that memory capacity in a very little place and do it for next to
nothing. That market has never been rewarded financially for its

4 thoughts on “Wisdoms of Sequoia’s Don Valentine

  1. The link to Don Valentine in Wikipedia is marked up as “orphaned”. So I ask myself when did media become our mother and father so that something can be described as orphaned. I guess that places new form of meaning when we are fostering media.

    Memorable quotes do come from people who observe people who engage thinking as a process of living. I am an observer of my own media and I have come to the conclusion that for most of the time we are watching rather than observing people talking.

    That awareness that on media we are watching people perpetually talk from one form of media channel to another becomes enlightening when we engage a personal reality check whether what we are hearing has made us think.

    The traditional fall back is always – ART is the mechanism to make us think. For people who don’t think, it is best to claim oneself the label of artist rather than entrepreneur, at least that will keep the sea of thoughtlessness and the failure of human beings to discover intelligence that is embedded in media.

    So what I see from this feature on Don Valentine is a guy who is not afraid of thinking and engaging thinking towards the creation of a purposeful life and if I had a gun put to my head to pick a favorite quote from the list above it would be:

    “The world of technology thrives best when individuals are left alone to be different, creative, and disobedient.”

    Of course that does not mean that one is different, creative or disobedient unless one lives in the world of personal branding – and what is personal branding after all but to so reduce thinking so we can remember
    without having to think.

    Oh, gosh, I wrote this while I was thinking, at least I know that Don Valentine would appreciate this, not that I write this for applause, recognition, pleasing someone or sychophancy – but simply to think about someone out there who has proven that they are not thoughtless about the nature of their own existence.

    In that regard I tip my hat to Don Valentine, now that bit of minor formality is done, I will get back to my business…at some point the thinking has to turn to doing and doing ironically creates a whole lot of thinking.


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