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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

VC Firm Sequoia Capital Invests in Julie Christensen Campaign

Posted By on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 3:43 PM

click to enlarge sf.christensen.08181-e1439875064720.jpg
Venture capitalists are used to pouring money into uncertain ventures on the off chance they'll hit the jackpot. For every Uber, there's a Secret (Or ten Secrets, probably. You can check out a nice startup graveyard here.) It's a gamble. 

Several months after the so-called "godfather of Silicon Valley" — angel investor and mayoral buddy Ron Conway — reportedly "threatened" a roomful of major donors not to support Aaron Peskin's challenge against District 3 Supervisor Julie Christensen, a handful of Conway's VC buddies are placing late bets on the incumbent. 

According to campaign finance filings, four partners in Sequoia Capital, a VC firm based in Menlo Park are dropping some last minute bucks into Friends of Julie Christensen for Supervisor 2015, the independent expenditure set up by the San Francisco Police Officer's Association to back her candidacy. Here's a rundown of Christensen's new friends:

James (Jim) Goetz: $19,900 donation on October 15
Jim Goetz has been #1 on Forbes' "Midas List" of top venture capital investors for two years running. A partner at venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Goetz's greatest coup was being the sole investor in WhatsApp, a messaging app acquired by Facebook for over $20 billion. The 49-year-old lives in Los Gatos.

Alfred Lin: $19,999 donation on October 16
Alfred Lin is #29 on the Midas List. The 43-year old partner at Sequoia Capital served cut his teeth in Silicon Valley partnering with Tony Hsieh at Venture Frogs, LinkExchange, and Zappos. He sits on the boards of directors of Airbnb, DoorDash, and several other startups. He claims that an oft-repeated story about him selling slices of pizza to his roommates at college is apocryphal: "It wasn't predatory — honest." 

Roelof Botha: $19,999 donation on October 16
Forbes calls Roelof Botha "Sequoia Capital's resident member of the 'PayPal Mafia.'" Botha was PayPal's chief financial officer before joining Sequoia Capital in 2003. He sits at #21 on the Midas List. According to Forbes, he was an early investor in YouTube. A citizen of South Africa, he lives in Menlo Park. 

Michael Goguen: $19,999 donation on October 19
#52 on the Midas List, Goguen is another Sequoia Partner. He lives in Atherton

Christensen is also attracting donations from one of Sequoia Capital's competitors. She got $5000 from Mood Rowghani on October 16. Rowghani's firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is probably most famous outside tech circles for the gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former partner Ellen Pao. According to his Twitter bio, Rowghani is an investor in Uber, Instacart, Lending Club, Soundcloud, My FitnessPal, Waze, Square, DocuSign, IndieGoGo, Slack, and Stance. His brother, Ali Rowghani, was the #2 at Twitter before joining startup incubator Y Combinator last November. 

Another notable donor to the Friends of Julie Christensen is Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs. Jobs' $19,900 donation on October 19 pales in comparison to her overall fortune, which Forbes calculates at $19.8 billion. 

The anti-Peskin independent expenditure had already gotten big bucks from Ron Conway himself ($128,250 so far), and on Monday, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman tossed in another $19,900. (Hoffman buddied up with Conway last year to run attack ads against Supervisor David Campos in the state assembly race.) 

KQED has a story today about the elusive tech vote in San Francisco and finds that it doesn't really exist. But voting is for regular people. In Silicon Valley, money talks. 

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About The Author

Julia Carrie Wong

Julia Carrie Wong's work has appeared in numerous local and national titles including 48hills, Salon, In These Times, The Nation, and The New Yorker.


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