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Asia Venture Capital

How Sequoia’s Neil Shen Built a China Powerhouse

In 2004, the two senior partners at Sequoia Capital, Michael Moritz and Doug Leone, were looking for new long-term opportunities outside the U.S., and they zeroed in on China as the first target.

“Back then, a lot of people were flying in, doing deals and flying out. We knew that was the wrong model,” Mr. Leone said in an interview. Instead, Sequoia began looking for a local partner. After months of back-and-forth travel looking for the right person, the founder of a U.S. Sequoia portfolio company recommended a Chinese entrepreneur named Neil Shen, who then was chief financial officer of Nasdaq-listed Chinese online travel company Ctrip. By 2005, Mr. Shen was in charge of Sequoia Capital China, which launched its first fund, of around $200 million, that year.

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‘From day one, Sequoia had the right model. They picked Neil—who is able to identify founders and products that work in China—and gave him full autonomy.’