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Dan Chen

  • Seed/Early
LFG

Backstory

I grew up in the small university town of College Station, Texas. I competed in every tiger parent activity under the sun: math, science, chess, piano, violin, programming, etc. I started at Caltech declaring in computational neuroscience. It was after a summer internship that I decided research wasn’t for me. I switched to computer science my junior year and never looked back.

Being a relatively late bloomer as a programmer, I had a chip on my shoulder. I would take programming tests to prove to myself that I had the tiniest speck of talent. One of the tests I took was written by Balaji Srinivasan at a16z. It was fairly mundane but the last question was a Diophantine problem that piqued my interest. This happy coincidence started my journey into VC and startup land. It was also my first foray into crypto at one of the earliest crypto-interested VCs.

I’ve always liked building. I get an unreasonable amount of joy from creating something out of nothing and with my own two hands. Early in my career, I’d spend nights and weekends building prototypes of every app under the sun and learning how all the bits and pieces work—from frontend to backend, infrastructure, offline learning algorithms, data pipelines and more. I built a crypto company in the mania of 2017, weathered the subsequent winter (and in doing so, explored countless crypto ideas) and sold it in 2021.

On the lookout for

We have the chance to build something new with our crypto fund. Through Sequoia’s 50 year journey, we have never had a sector-focused fund. But we believe crypto is a fundamental shift in the way to think about money and finance and is here to stay.

I’m not the first to say this, but grit is the number one quality I look for in founders. I know what it feels like when you’re on the brink of failure, when it feels like the rest of the world has written you off, when everything you’ve put your heart and soul into seems like it was for nothing. History is full of successful companies that at one point or another were knocking on death’s door. The founders that were long-term optimistic and persevered just a little bit more through the pain and uncertainty were the ones that made it out the other side.

Get in touch with Dan

Personal Side

  • Skiing
  • Ex-StarCraft Pro
  • Horror and Sci-Fi
  • Crypto Podcasts
  • Piano