Another GP Parting Ways with Sequoia

Last year, we reported that Pierre Lamond is quietly segueing out of Sequoia Capital. Turns out that Mark Stevens, a partner at the firm since 1989, is also transitioning slowly out of the firm, he told me earlier today.

“I’m still on the boards of a handful of companies. I still have an office at Sequoia. But I’m not a GP in the latest [$930 million] fund [announced in September],” said Stevens, who is now spending a good chunk of his time working on his nonprofit interests; with USC, whose investment committee Stevens co-chairs; and on the board of the public school that his children attend.

I asked Stevens if his focus on semiconductors — an unfashionable area of investment these days — played a role in his decision to scale back at the firm. He said no.

“I do think the number of new white space opportunities in [the] semiconductor [industry] is fewer than a decade ago, and that Sequoia and the rest of the venture community realizes that and therefore less money gets allocated to seminconductors and components,” said Stevens. Nevertheless, he added, “If I still wanted to work 60 hour weeks, there are plenty of other categories I could have spent time in [at the firm].”

Stevens added that Sequoia’s growing focus on more mature companies — for which it recently added several professionals with public investing experience — wasn’t a factor in his newly reduced role, either. “We’ve been late-stage investors since 1987.  All our GPs work on both [Sequoia’s early-stage and late-stage] funds.” 

Stevens has grown rich at Sequoia over the years — so donations like the $22 million he gave to USC’s engineering school in 2004 would suggest. Little wonder that going forward, he says that he’ll spend “a good chunk of my time just managing my own net worth, finding opportunities for my own balance sheet.”

In the meantime, he said, “I’m still working on building value for our investors at Sequoia.”

Stevens — whose numerous past investments include AtWeb, acquired by Netscape for $95 million in stock in 1998, Billpoint, acquired by eBay in 1999 for $275 million, and publicly traded Terayon Communications, which IPO’d in 1998 — still sits on the boards of Sequoia-backed Miradia and MobilePeak, both chip companies, as well as the wireless communication company Rayspan.