Roelof Botha (45) was promoted to one of three stewards of Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley’s legendary venture capital firm whose winning early bets on Apple, Google and numerous others have made it the most famous venture capital firm in the tech hub. Botha ranks just behind Elon Musk as SA’s best known export to California.
Forbes Magazine named him one of the leading venture capital investors in the world.
Sequoia Capital has invested in more than 250 companies since 1972, including Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, Stripe, YouTube, Instagram, Yahoo! and WhatsApp. The combined current public market value for these companies is over $1.4 trillion, equivalent to 22 percent of Nasdaq.
A member of the PayPal Mafia
Like Musk, Botha was born in Pretoria. He graduated with the highest ever marks at the University of Cape Town’s actuarial science department and, at 25, became the youngest ever actuary in South African history.
He moved to California in 1998 to attend Stanford Business School where he was the valedictorian of his MBA class. He joined PayPal in 2000.
Botha is personally credited with Sequoia’s investments in Instagram, YouTube and Square. He joined Sequoia in January 2003 after Paypal was sold and has spent the last ten years as co-leader of the firm’s core US business alongside Jim Goetz.
One of the three stewards of Sequoia
When Goetz stepped down in 2017 his responsibilities as one of the three stewards of Sequoia was passed on to Botha.
About his move to the US in 1998 Botha said he “just knew there was a lot of opportunity in Silicon Valley and had an intuition that he needed to be there”.
It was after the emerging markets currency crisis. The money he’d saved in South Africa to attend business school in America lost 40 percent of its value overnight.
“By the last semester at Stanford I’d run out of money. That’s when I joined PayPal,” he says of the company that was co-founded by Musk.
“Of course I was attracted to the company as well, but there was a very real need to pay rent the next month.”