Gaurav Garg immigrated to America from India in 1984 and has had a remarkable career in the tech sector. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, he moved to the Bay Area to work at SynOptics. After six years, he left to start his own company, Redback Networks.
His timing was perfect, as the company was at the early stages of the transition to broadband networking. With the help of a friend who had just joined Sequoia as a partner, Redback Networks secured $200,000 in seed investment. Four months later, they had a series A of $5 million. The company went public two-and-a-half years later with a market cap of $30 billion.
Gaurav then joined Sequoia as a venture partner. Over a decade, he started and incubated 11 companies, 5 of which went public and 4 out of business. During his tenure, the firm's headcount grew 10x, and the number of partners grew 6x, with the number of products increasing from 1.25 to 9.
Gaurav attributes the success of Sequoia to a combination of factors. The partnership was diverse, with more than half of the partners having started their own companies. This gave them a unique perspective on the startups they invested in, as they could empathize with the founders and their struggles. They also adopted a long-term investing approach, believing that the most successful companies needed time to develop.
Venture capital has changed considerably since Gaurav was at Sequoia. The industry is now much more vertical, with venture capitalists having to move further up the tech stack as Amazon Web Services and other companies have made what venture capitalists invested in twenty years ago irrelevant.
His main area of focus now is on data, AI, and blockchain, noting that AI is having a major transformation in business and work, and data is enabling this transformation. The internet has enabled a democratization of channels and acquisition, which Gaurav believes has enabled the success of product-led growth, consumer companies, and labor marketplaces.
Today, Gaurav is the managing partner of Wing, a venture capital firm. He believes that the essential ingredient for a successful venture capital firm is intellectual curiosity and the humility to recognize that the business is full of uncertainty. He looks for founders who have an open mind, are willing to learn, and are emotionally committed to their vision. He also acknowledges the need for diverse perspectives on venture capital, as it allows for a richer understanding of the companies and markets in which they invest.
When asked about the future of Silicon Valley, Gaurav acknowledged the unique culture of the area and the access to talent it provides. He also noted that the pandemic enabled companies to access talent worldwide and that other innovation centers are starting to form around particular domains.
Gaurav's advice to companies is to raise money now and use the crisis as an opportunity to build a real business with high productivity and efficiency. He acknowledges the potential of the Metaverse to blur the distinction between the real world, AR, and VR but notes that it will take a while for the hardware and native software applications to catch up.
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