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Michael Moritz: “The best companies are creatures of founders’ obsessions.”

The final speakers of Slush 2019 were two living legends of the business world.

Michael Moritz, Partner at Sequoia Capital, is one of the most well-known venture capitalists of our time. He has led investments in companies like Google, Yahoo!, PayPal, LinkedIn and Stripe, just to name a few. Moritz’s roots lead to Wales, where he began as a journalist and has since become an actual knight.

On the second day of Slush 2019, Moritz took over the Founder’s Stage with Mika Salmi, Partner at Lakestar, to discuss topics like tips on investing and entrepreneurship and Sequoia’s relationship with Europe.

Want to know what went down on stage? Look further for some picks.

Questions by Mika Salmi, answers by Michael Moritz.

Tell me about some of your European investments?

We have had tides to Europe for a long time. Many of us at Sequoia were born at different parts of Europe. Europe looks a lot more hospitable for tech companies than back when I left for US. We have had good experiences here with many companies.

For a long time, VC’s in Silicon Valley would say: “We will invest in you if you move to the Valley”. Does this still happen?

Not so much, but I think it depends. Sometimes, when a company is started far away from the US but it’s primary market is there, we would encourage one of the founders to move in, so they can stay in touch with the market. It’s a benefit.

I am learning more and more about the European ecosystem. I have heard rumors of big US investors like Sequoia coming and cherry-piking.

Our relationship with Europe has largely come from European founders who have said they are at home in Europe but want a partner from the US. That’s the basis of the relationships we have pretty much with all European companies we’ve invested in.

Do you have bits of advice for young founders?

I don’t have profound sage words, but look… The best companies are creatures of founders’ obsession. If you look at companies of merit, these were creations of founders’ obsession in a specific area. It was a consequence of someone’s obsession. If you are not obsessed, clearly don’t start a company.

You also have to understand the economics of the area of your company.

And do not compromise on the quality of the people you hire, even when it’s tempting to settle. It’s so critical.  When starting a company with the very best quality people and the highest quality engineering team, it’s going be a good path.

How do startups reach out to Sequoia?

You can just email us.


Want to see the entire interview? Check out the live streams.

Photo: Jussi Hellsten