One day in March, Sequoia Capital assembled a show of force: a private summit on artificial intelligence hosted at the firm’s airy offices in San Francisco’s Mission District. Around 100 people gathered—a who’s who of tech’s hottest sector, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman; Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer; and Dario Amodei, co-founder and CEO of Anthropic, a two-year-old generative AI startup recently valued at $4.1 billion.
Roelof Botha, who took over running Sequoia as its “senior steward” (Sequoia-speak for CEO) nearly a year ago, played the role of grinning host, mingling freely in the crowd as partners Sonya Huang, Konstantine Buhler and Pat Grady acted as onstage emcees. With a sweet smell drifting up from the Dandelion Chocolate factory below, a Q&A between Altman and Sequoia partner Alfred Lin anchored the morning’s schedule, followed later that afternoon by a conversation between Lin and Nvidia’s decabillionaire CEO Jensen Huang, clad in his trademark leather jacket. Several startups, including Scenario, a generative AI company offering technology for game developers, gave short demos between the longer sessions, hoping to impress the moguls in attendance. “The energy, the optimism—you could feel it,” said Scenario co-founder and CEO Emmanuel de Maistre.