Venture Capital’s Homage to the Alchemy of PARC


Date Thursday October 12th 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

According to WikiPedia, the word “alchemy” means “cast together”, “pour together”, “weld”, “alloy”. Early alchemists were the predecessors to modern scientists whose many discoveries of substances and processes continue to be the mainstay of industry today. For instance, Chinese alchemists are credited with the invention of black power in the 9th century that, when combined with combustible materials, brought us fireworks in the 10th century that continues to be the universal symbol of community gatherings in the 21st century.

The venture capital community owes great thanks to the scientists and inventions that were born out of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). It would be difficult to deny that the genealogy of Silicon Valley’s successful companies is deeply rooted in PARC’s inventions. Sequoia Capital recognizes the PARC DNA strands found in companies like 3Com, Cisco, Apple and Yahoo. The founders of these companies were fellow alchemists who mixed together prior technology and added a twist of their own to enable their product or service.

How is a company formed out of innovation? How does a venture capitalist decide to invest in a company? What are the phases and milestones of a company? Looking back, what are the elements of a sustainable company? What are the progressions of technologies, trends, cultural shifts and innovation recombinations that foster an environment of new opportunity?

Roelof Botha, a Partner at Sequoia Capital, will offer observations, experiences, examples and mistakes around these questions and, on behalf of one venture capital firm, say “thank you” to PARC.


Roelof Botha is a partner at Sequoia Capital, where he focuses on services and software investments. Prior to joining Sequoia Capital in 2003, Roelof served as the Chief Financial Officer of PayPal (EBAY). Earlier, he worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company. Roelof is a certified actuary (Fellow of the Faculty of Actuaries), and has a BS in Actuarial Science, Economics, and Statistics from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Roelof currently serves on the boards of Insider Pages, Luxim, Meebo, Xoom, and YouTube.

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