Settle in, because we have a lot to work through.
Let’s start with the South African connection. Roelof Botha is the grandson of Pik Botha, who served as the country’s foreign minister in the last years of the apartheid era, although I’d imagine he’d like to leave that association behind.
Raised in Hout Bay, he attended Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck and then graduated from UCT. He then worked as a business analyst at McKinsey & Co in Johannesburg from August 1996 through to June 1998.
Following that, he moved to the US, where he went to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business from 1998 through 2000 and received an MBA, and was the Henry Ford II Scholar as Stanford GSB valedictorian.
Since then he’s been working hard to carve out his own legacy in Silicon Valley after taking an early, but very beneficial risk by investing in YouTube.
Back in 2017, he featured on Forbes’ ‘Top 100 Venture Capitalists In The World’ list.
He is currently ranked at number 23 on Forbes’ list of Top Tech Investors 2019. Here’s a snippet from the bio that accompanies that ranking:
The former PayPal CFO turned VC celebrated as one of his largest investments, ticketing event platform Eventbrite, went public in September 2018. That followed exits including MongoDB, which went public in October 2017, and Square, which has performed well on the market since its November 2015 IPO, with a market capitalization of more than $30 billion as of March 2018. Square bought another of Botha’s companies, website builder Weebly, in January 2019 for $365 million.
The mention of PayPal in his Forbes bio is significant because he shares that particular association with a number of other big names in the industry, like Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.
According to Business Insider, PayPal was the starting point for a number of big names in Silicon Valley including Botha.
Known for their entrepreneurial mindset and anti-establishment attitude, this elite group is known as the “PayPal Mafia,” and they all put in time during the payment platform’s early days some 20 years ago.
Botha started out as PayPal’s director of corporate development. He went on to become PayPal’s vice president of finance, and in 2001 was named CFO. His biggest business move was becoming a partner at Sequoia Capital.
When combined, the companies Sequoia Capital has invested in have a total market value of over $1 trillion, and the firm has funded tech giants like Apple, Google, YouTube, and Instagram.
Botha currently sits on the board of more than a dozen companies, including Jawbone, Eventbrite, Evernote, Bird, Ethos, Mahalo, Natera, Nimbula, Square, Tokbox, Tumblr, Weebly, Unity, Whisper and Xoom. He also works with 10gen, AssureRX, FutureAdvisor, Instagram, Mixpanel and MuSigma. In other words, he’s involved in pretty much everything that Silicon Valley has to offer.
As for his future plans, some suspect that the forced closure of his account with the Bank of America earlier this month had something to do with Bitcoin, reports IOL. The tech mogul is rumoured to be in possession of a cryptocurrency and if his business practices are anything to go on, he’s probably coining it.
Finally, he once dressed up as Buzz Lightyear for a Sequoia Capital meeting, but that’s a story for another day.
I’ll leave you with an interview that Botha did where he discusses his business strategies and investment philosophy.
If you’re going to learn from someone, the guy who first saw the potential in YouTube is definitely the person you want to listen to.
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