What’s Your Story?
The story arc of every legendary company is unique, but they all start the same way: with extraordinary people.
By Team Sequoia
Published December 7, 2021
Our mission is to seek out and help build the rare, generational companies that push the world forward and make their mark over the course of decades.
The story arc of each of these companies is unique—some rocket to a hundred million users seemingly overnight like Jan Koum’s WhatsApp; some simmer for a decade before finding their footing, like Daniel Dines’ UiPath. But they all have one thing in common: extraordinary people. No amount of luck can create this kind of outcome. Legendary companies require imaginative founders who see past what is to envision what might be; founders who see the status quo as arbitrary and changeable. These founders have the courage to undertake the epic journey of company building and have the resolve to overcome challenges, transforming themselves—and their organizations—again and again along the way.
We have had the unique advantage of seeing many of these journeys unfold over nearly 50 years. We tell these stories inside Sequoia, and now more broadly, sharing inspiration, insight and lessons learned.
In reading these stories, you will see what we see (and what we constantly seek): the outliers. Many were outsiders, overlooked and underestimated. Before starting Wonolo, Yong Kim was once nearly expelled for fighting with a student who called him “stupid” because he stayed up studying English until 4am every night. Many heard “no” dozens of times before anyone took them seriously. Their stories start earlier than usually gets told. Their journeys are never undertaken alone. At first the path is shrouded in questions and laden with potholes. Brian Chesky didn’t exactly know how he’d change the way the world thinks about travel the first night he let a stranger crash on his air mattress. Some are just at the beginning of their journeys. Maybe you’ll see yourself in them.
As we consider the era ahead, we face more unknowns than ever. The global challenges are steep, and yet the rate of disruption and innovation is faster than ever. We won’t try to predict the future or pretend to have a crystal ball. But one thing we know for sure is that it’ll be the vision and determination of extraordinary founders who will invent and amaze us, seizing the opportunity to shape culture, and pushing the world forward.
The pursuit of that vision is a hero’s journey. Legendary founders don’t appear fully-formed, Athena-style, from the skull of Silicon Valley. They’re forged through tests and crucible moments along the way, and increasingly many are far away from Sand Hill Road. There is no formula except “spikiness,” those off-the-map traits that let us know we’ve met someone extraordinary.
Sequoia has always sought to be the first true believers in visionary founders, the crazy ones who just wouldn’t quit until the story they imagined came true—and maybe with a few extra chapters they never imagined as well. Making the journey alongside them and helping to build with them is a privilege, and endlessly fascinating. We hope you are inspired and motivated by their stories as much as we are. We look forward to sharing more of them with you.
And if you’re one of these extraordinary individuals in the making, gearing up for the right moment to unleash your singular vision on the world, please apply to Arc or just get in touch with us. We can’t wait to hear your story.