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What Sequoia Gains by Blowing Up the VC Fund Structure

Photo: Art by Mike Sullivan

In August, I wrote that venture capital as we know it is ending. Self-proclaimed “VC funds” faced a choice: They could try to scale up to meet the coming onslaught of cash from the global financial community entering private software investing, or they could look for new forms of venture financing beyond software and traditional technology.

In the context of that discussion, I am impressed with the bold moves Sequoia Capital announced this week: Instead of offering the typical time-limited funds, the firm will have one big fund, the Sequoia Fund, which will be open-ended, meaning it never has to return capital unless limited partners explicitly choose to redeem. The metafund will allocate funds to more traditional-looking VC subfunds for venture investing. And of course, the firm will become a registered investment adviser so that it can deploy a much broader range of strategies in the public and crypto markets.

Candidly, I wish I had a real knock on this strategy. (I like to play the contrarian.) But in this case, I think the power of the move Sequoia is making here is actually much greater than people realize—though not quite the “fundamental disruption of venture capital” that Sequoia advertised in its announcement, which is a tad grandiose. But still, as the investing world gets faster and stranger, there are lots of reasons why this move makes sense. That goes in general for VC firms, but particularly for Sequoia as it tries to fend off the onslaught of hedge funds and private equity firms and leverage its current position in the VC market.

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