Don Valentine, the founder of famed Silicon Valley venture
firm Sequoia Capital, died Friday at age 87 in his home in Woodside,
Valentine founded Sequoia in 1972, and made early
investments in companies including Apple, Atari, Oracle, Electronic Arts, and
Cisco. In a statement to Fortune, Sequoia’s global managing partner Doug
We are deeply saddened to share that Don Valentine passed
away on October 25, 2019. Don’s life is woven into the fabric of Silicon
Valley. He shaped Sequoia and left his imprint not just on those of us who had
the privilege to work with him or the many philanthropic institutions that
invested with Sequoia, but also on the founders and leaders of some of the most
significant technology companies of the later part of the twentieth century.
Our thoughts are with Don’s wife, Rachel, with his family, and with all those
inspired by his pioneering vision and indelible impact.
Born in New York in 1932, Valentine studied chemistry at Fordham University before moving to Southern California in the mid-1950s for a job as a sales engineer with Raytheon. He later joined Fairchild Semiconductor, where he learned how to market and sell silicon chips.
He began making personal investments in technology companies, and then decided to team up with mutual fund management firm Capital Group to establish Capital Management Services. The firm, which later became known as Sequoia Capital, formed its first $3 million venture capital fund in 1974 and bet early on Atari and Apple.
Sequoia would later become a huge force in Silicon Valley venture capital. In addition to Valentine’s investments, the firm was an early investor in Google WhatsApp, and Dropbox. Valentine handed the reins over to partners Doug Leone and Michael Moritz in 1996, but continued to offer guidance and attend partner meetings for another decade.
Following the news of Valentine’s passing, fellow venture
capitalists and tech executives shared tributes to honor the legendary investor
who was instrumental in shaping what we know as Silicon Valley today.
“Rest in peace, Don Valentine. You were a legend and an inspiration.” — Roelof Botha, partner at Sequoia
“‘The world of technology thrives best when individuals
are left alone to be different, creative, and disobedient.’ — Don
Valentine, founder of Sequoia, RIP” — Marc Andreessen,
founder of Andreessen Horowitz
“Don’s impact on the beginnings of Silicon Valley and the
entire tech industry will not be soon forgotten. Thoughts are with his family
and the entire Sequoia team. May he rest in peace.” — Sundar
Pichai, CEO of Google
“Inspiring LEGEND. RIP Don Valentine, 87.” — Josh Wolfe, co-founder of Lux Capital
“Don Valentine, RIP, a guiding light who put silicon in
Silicon Valley. I had the honor of spending time with Mr. Valentine and learned
from him. Thank you for helping create this ecosystem that we call home now.” — Om Malik, partner at
“Don Valentine was a great venture capitalist who changed
the world. We offer our sincere condolences to his family and his colleagues at
Sequoia” — The team
at venture firm Kleiner Perkins