My name is pronounced like “ice” with a K at the beginning. You can imagine how many times I’ve used that line.
It’s better to be interested than interesting—the questions we posit tell us more than any answer ever could.
We’ve only scratched the surface of what developer tools can do. Abstracting away infrastructure has increasingly empowered developers by changing who, how and where software is built.
I spoke to a few thousand founders in my two years as an investor before Sequoia. You learn a ton from mass exposure over a concentrated period—patterns become more pronounced. I try to look for entrepreneurs who can’t fathom themselves as anything else.
It’s important to contemplate all the perspectives that historically haven’t—and currently don’t—have a seat at the table. There’s a lot of absence.
The global logistics industry is enormous and awfully analog. I’m excited to work with entrepreneurs tackling various pain points endemic to the lifecycle of a good.
I think some incredible prosumer companies will arise in the next few decades. A lot of distribution and technical elements are now in place: the App Store just graduated from perpetual license to subscription and our mobile devices are finally robust enough to run sophisticated applications.
You can’t protect what you can’t see. The proliferation of hidden, unagentable devices on our networks lends itself to major vulnerabilities. Protecting the internet of things will become central to cybersecurity hygiene in the enterprise.
My roots are Indian, but I belong to a small diaspora of Ismaili Muslims who moved to East Africa about 200 years ago. My parents fled political instability in the region as teenagers in the 1970s and immigrated to Canada with the help of our spiritual leader, the Aga Khan—he made one phone call to Pierre Trudeau and, in a few days, thousands of us were resettled.
I grew up in a small Vancouver suburb. My dad drove my brother and me to a private school in the city, an hour away, for 12 years. I think about that commute every day.
I did a lot of pottery and sculpture growing up. Firing a piece in a kiln is a lot like the art of company-building: a magical interaction between human agency and environmental factors out of our control.
I totaled my dad’s car when I was 17 by running a red light. He picked me up and said, "Kais, there are two ways to speed: defensively and recklessly. They look the same on the outside, but they're very different; the former involves risk calculus, the latter does not.” I’ll never forget that—the second you make uncalculated risk-taking a habit, you're dead.
I switched majors late in college from molecular biology to something called social studies—which I know sounds like a class between lunch and recess; it’s actually Harvard’s spin on politics, philosophy and economics. You learn to recognize what’s required to form a coherent thesis, become attuned to how compelling you find an argument, and get used to adjusting your stance on the fly through live discussion.
I think Marx was the greatest entrepreneur of all time. He tried to disrupt capitalism—bold.
I used my summers in college to trace my heritage and visit the places I was connected to, but had never been. Technology was somehow always center stage on this journey: I built a database for community health workers in Kenya to track medication adherence and I worked on a mobile e-learning platform for primary students in India.
I stumbled into the world of venture capital on a whim after a friend encouraged me to apply for an internship. I came in with zero knowledge—seriously. I thought COGS were an empathic metaphor for the inner-workings of a company.
I heard Pat Grady on a podcast and cold emailed him. He responded in a few hours and we met the next time I was in town. It was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with an investor.
My goal is to find places where I’m the dumbest person in the room on the topics I care about most. I feel very dumb at Sequoia—and I love that.
There’s a scene in Lincoln where Daniel Day-Lewis says that a compass might point you to true north, but it won’t tell you anything about the terrain you’ll encounter along the way—that part is all execution.