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Roelof Botha

  • Seed/Early
  • +
  • Growth
“If you’re going to be really successful in this business, you have to be contrarian—and right.”

I’ve always thought, “What can I do that opens up possibilities?” I grew up in South Africa and went to an Afrikaans high school, and we didn’t speak English at home. But I pushed myself to go to an English-speaking university, and that opened up a door. Then I chose to work for McKinsey, because I thought it would open another door and maybe I’d get a chance to work overseas.

I was reading about what was happening in Silicon Valley in the mid 90s, before I came to the U.S. Already, I’m starting to see the beginnings of the internet. Did I fathom how big it would be? Absolutely not. I didn’t know what venture capital was. I didn’t know that I would join a startup. I just had an intuition that I needed to be here. A friend of mine introduced me to Elon in 1999 and I joined PayPal. Then when Mike Moritz asked me to come interview at Sequoia, that was just another door opening. Where might this one lead?

Whenever I interview people, I ask about those key moments in somebody’s life where they’ve made career decisions. And I think about companies in the same way—there are these crucible moments that have an enormous bearing on ultimate outcomes.

The unconventional. So many times, I’ve led an investment and been made fun of. YouTube. Instagram. MongoDB. There’s a little defiance in saying, “We’ll show you!” I remember in 2001, when I was at PayPal, there was an article titled “Earth to Palo Alto.” It said we were deranged, we didn’t know what we were doing. In the meantime, I was inside the building, knowing that we were months away from being profitable and on our way to being a public company.

There’s something intriguing to me about somebody who’s an original thinker, who is quirky, and maybe an outsider. I love spending time with people like that. Often, I judge based on how I feel when I meet someone the second time. With most people, you can have a pretty interesting conversation once. The real test is the second conversation—do I lose interest? Or does my imagination start to run off as I think about what this company can become, and understand the depth and significance of the person’s idea? There are few things as exhilarating as sitting in a room with a founder and riffing with them on their idea.

Get in touch with Roelof

Science / Science fiction / Foodie / Family / Snowboarding at 60 mph / Table Tennis

Press & Media

Current Companies

  • Ethos uses technology to provide accessible and affordable life insurance coverage.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partners
      Konstantine Buhler,
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Evernote is a digital workspace for storing and sharing.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2010

  • GenEdit is revolutionizing gene therapy and gene editing with its nanoparticle delivery technology.
    Current Stage

    Early

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2016

  • Landis help renters become homeowners.
    Current Stage

    Early

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2020

  • mmhmm is a new and better way to create clear, compelling communications via video.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2020

  • Pendulum is a biotechnology company working to improve the human microbiome.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partners
      Jess Lee,
      Roelof Botha,
      Sonya Huang
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Skiff is a privacy-first collaboration platform.
    Current Stage

    Early

    Partners
      Konstantine Buhler,
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2020

  • Temporal enables any software application to handle failures gracefully and in a user-friendly way.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partners
      Bogomil Balkansky,
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2019

  • The Org is a network of public org charts for employees at fast-growing startups.
    Current Stage

    Growth

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2019

Enduring Companies

  • 23andMe is the leading personal genetics information company.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2017

  • Bird is an electric vehicle maker and bike-sharing network focused on sustainability.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2018

  • BridgeBio makes targeted treatments for genetic diseases.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2018

  • Eventbrite is a marketplace for events.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2009

  • Instagram, now part of Meta, is the world's most popular photo-sharing app.
    Current Stage

    Acquired

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2012

  • MongoDB is the leading general-purpose database platform.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2010

  • Natera provides DNA testing across multiple clinical areas including women's health and oncology.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2007

  • Square is a payment service that helps more people start, run and grow their businesses.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2011

  • Tumblr, now part of Yahoo, is a short-form, mixed-media blogging platform.
    Current Stage

    Acquired

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2010

  • Unity is a 3D and VR content development platform.
    Current Stage

    IPO

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2009

  • Xoom, now part of PayPal, is a global money transfer service.
    Current Stage

    Acquired

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2003

  • YouTube, now part of Google, is the world's leading video-sharing service.
    Current Stage

    Acquired

    Partner
      Roelof Botha
    Partnered In

    2005