Every three years or so, Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s most accomplished venture capital firms, grabs our attention with a not-so-subtle change to its website.
In 2009, it changed the site to feature a simple search bar (see partial screenshot below). This let the firm see what what partners, deals and subjects were getting the most interest from its visitors. This may not sound novel now, but at the time it was: Most other VC firms still had Web 1.0 sites featuring basic profile of their partners, usually in a stiff pose in blue shirts and khakis.
Then, just this past week, Sequoia’s site abandoned the search bar, and reverted to showcase its impressive set of founders — but this time, in a much richer, media-heavy way. Go to the site now, and you land on a page featuring a young, vibrant Steve Jobs (image above). Click through, and you find more information about the company, Jobs and the Sequoia partner who first backed him.
The site scrolls through images of its other big-name founders, from Oracle’s Larry Ellison to PayPal’s Peter Thiel, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and more.
But it’s when you search Sequoia’s more recent investments that you’ll see the work that has gone into these profiles. Look, for example, at the page for Inkling, an education startup that Sequoia backed. Aside from the profile page, there’s a tab that offers a dynamic chronology of company milestones, as well as tabs for video and media quotes. On the main profile page, Sequoia Partner Bryan Schreier gives a brief quote about his first meeting with Inkling’s founder, Matt MacInnis: “We left the meeting knowing we had to get into business with this guy even though we had no idea what the product or business model was going to be.”
In some ways, this is really a retro version of Sequoia’s site in 2006, when it featured a sweeping, colorful collage of its famous founders.
This latest move is a smart one, considering the old simple search bar only hid from view what makes Sequoia so special in the first place: its track-record of backing great entrepreneurs. And with the amazing number of angels, incubators, and other venture firms that are springing up now to compete with older firms like Sequoia, it’s a good time to remind people of this.