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Stephanie Zhan

  • Seed/Early

Startups are hard. At the highs I'm not just your cheerleader but your sparring partner, at the lows your co-pilot. We’re in this together, building for the long term to become a generational company.


I grew up across Asia, in the early days of the internet. I saw how technology elevated the lives of a billion people through two decades of transformative socioeconomic change. That scale of ambition, energy, and appetite for change shaped me and drove me to work on only the hardest, most transformative problems. As a founder I work with puts it, “to work on the root node problems of our time.” I believe in self-agency and bias for action—and in deep-rooted optimism and conviction, especially when the world has doubt.

As a child of the internet, I learned to code through building basic video games like many others (Cupid inspired Brick Breaker!). Mesmerized by Silicon Valley, I came to Stanford to study Computer Science and immerse myself in what the media had caricatured as the Startup Factory. It was exciting! Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to immerse myself in AI while being advised by Andrew Ng. I’ve been fascinated with the field from the early days of computer vision advancements to deep learning and the era of generative AI.

I was lucky to be at ground zero through a couple friends who co-founded OpenAI together in 2015. I remember the sheer will and urgency, passionate mission and vast vision that compelled them to make it a reality. I’m in awe of where we are today as an industry, driven by that commitment. I’m obsessed with continuously learning about the latest advancements in AI research and meeting those who have shaped the field. I feel grateful and energized to be at Sequoia in these still-early innings in AI—to help turn research advancements into products and commercial businesses that impact at scale.

On the lookout for

1) Outlier founders. Founders who have ambition to build something lasting and transformational. Founders who are thoughtful, with high slope, agency, a bias for action, and who have the mental and emotional fortitude to charge ahead even through tough times. Most importantly, good people I want to spend time with for decades. Being your very first believer. Most founders I work with and whose boards I serve on— Linear, Middesk, Rec Room—all started at the seed stage, with Sequoia as their first believer.

2) Being there at the beginning builds unparalleled trust, and that continues to strengthen over 10-20+ years if we’re lucky. It also allows us to help you shape the direction of the company. Think of it like a compass: a small one-degree shift as you embark out to sea makes a meaningful dent in the direction you’re headed over time. The early days are ambiguous, but exciting! I thrive helping you define product strategy, find product market fit, hire an early team, and then scale the business. Finally, I have deep empathy for founders who take on the boldest adventure of their lives. It’s hard, but you’re not alone.

3) AI. It is the most important theme of the next decade, like the shift to cloud and mobile in the decades before. The scale of potential change and velocity of developments in the space create seismic opportunities for new companies. GitHub Copilot has proven that we can make even the best developers 10x better and more efficient, and one day expand to their dream for a world of 1B developers. ChatGPT has shown how powerful democratizing digital intelligence can be and how excited consumers can get about a unique product offering—even in an age-old industry like search. I’m excited about opportunities all across the stack: new foundation models in categories from robotics to biology and more; the extension of digital intelligence into AI agents; new opportunities driven by high-quality data and strong RL. I’m excited about crucial infrastructure we need: new software architectures, chips, energy, new infra and developer tools to build AI applications for deployment and commercialization. And I’m excited about a burgeoning ecosystem of applications across many industries that will be completely redefined with AI.

Get in touch with Stephanie

Personal Side

  • Family
  • Ares the Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • E/ACC

Press & Media


Current Companies

Company Name  Short Description Current Stage  Founders First Partnered  collapse
Domino Data LabDomino Data Lab helps data scientists build and deploy AI applications.Growth
  • Nick Elprin
  • Matthew Granade
  • Chris Yang
Early (2016)Collapse
EvyEvy builds simple product protection for e-commerce and retailers.Pre-Seed/Seed
  • Shana Azria
  • Simon Kemoun
  • Tanguy Le Stradic
Pre-Seed/Seed (2021)Collapse
Garner HealthGarner Health helps employers enrich employee benefits and reduce costs without changing plans or networks.Growth
  • Nick Reber
Pre-Seed/Seed (2019)Collapse
LinearLinear builds issue tracking tools for developers.Early
  • Tuomas Artman
  • Jori Lallo
  • Karri Saarinen
Pre-Seed/Seed (2019)Collapse
Mach IndustriesMach is solving hypersonic defense and revolutionizing defense technology.Pre-Seed/Seed
  • Ethan Thornton
Pre-Seed/Seed (2023)Collapse
MiddeskMiddesk makes software that builds trust between businesses.Growth
  • Kyle Mack
  • Kurt Ruppel
Pre-Seed/Seed (2019)Collapse
Rec RoomRec Room is a cross platform digital third place for kids at heart.Growth
  • John Bevis
  • Cameron Brown
  • Nick Fajt
  • Dan Kroymann
  • O. Bilal Orhan
  • Josh Wehrly
Pre-Seed/Seed (2016)Collapse
ReplicateReplicate runs machine learning models in the cloud.Early
  • Ben Firshman
  • Andreas Jansson
Pre-Seed/Seed (2021)Collapse
SundaySunday is a one-stop shop for your outdoor home. Growth
  • Coulter Lewis
  • Trent Lewis
Early (2020)Collapse
TavusTavus makes personalized videos scalable using generative AI.Early
  • Quinn Favret
  • Hassaan Raza
Pre-Seed/Seed (2021)Collapse