Sequoia’s Doug Leone on the spot for lunch, money

September 12, 2011

By Sarah McBride 

Nailing down a few minutes of a VC’s time can be tough, but one start-up tried a novel approach at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference: put the guy on the spot.

During the audience Q&A after TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington interviewed legendary venture capitalist Doug Leone from Sequoia, one Danish entrepreneur told Leone that his question was whether he could have a lunch date with Leone– today.

Leone begged off, citing a partner meeting, but promised lunch down the line. “Email me,” he suggested, giving his Sequoia email address.

But then the entrepreneur got demanding, saying that because he was going back to Copenhagen, the lunch would need to be before Thursday. This time Leone cited his travel schedule as a reason for declining, but told the entrepreneur he would meet with him eventually– as long as the follow-up email reminded Leone they’d talked at TechCrunch.

That is of course if Arrington  doesn’t get there first with his new venture CrunchFund. He asked the entrepreneur to cc him on the email and said his CrunchFund money was better than Sequoia’s.  Earlier on Monday  Arrington said that he was leaving TechCrunch, the influential technology blog that AOL bought last year after a fracas involving the launch of  CrunchFund — a  $20 million venture capital fund.

In the end, the entrepreneur may have to go hungry despite his efforts. During the same event, Leone talked at length about how Sequoia tended not to invest in faraway companies because of the difficulty in providing resources to them. “If you’re in Cleveland, we cannot help you,” he said.


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It is definitely not easy to get the attention of world class VCs like Doug from Sequoia Capital.

Sometimes even if you do out-of-the-ordinary things you still do not get the chance of talking with them and showing what you have to offer.

Fortunately this is not one of those times.



Posted by F.Patarnello | Report as abusive

Mr Leone certainly set off a firestorm of fury in Silicon Valley with his comment the other day. I refer to this: 11/09/13/sequoia-to-startups-have-a-nice -hot-mug-of-stfu/

Posted by ColinC | Report as abusive

I’m assuming that Doug Leone arbitrarily chose Cleveland as a way to illustrate that his fund is most interested in companies within a few hours drive of his California-based office. The fact that many VCs on America’s coasts feel this way—that Ohio might as well be Timbuktu—is a challenge Midwest entrepreneurs trying to raise money face every day and a reason we created JumpStart, a venture development organization that has invested $21 million in 56 Northeast Ohio (which includes Cleveland, btw) companies. After seven years of seeding great Ohio-based companies, investors seem to be getting the message that high quality, venture-fundable companies can be found right here in the “heart of it all.” In 2010 alone, our region’s entrepreneurs attracted capital from 42 investors outside of the region, including five from outside of the United States. And, for those investors worried about geographic proximity post-investment (and the onerous travel involved), there’s enough deal flow here to make it worth your while. Recently, several non-Ohio based VCs decided to put some “feet on the street,” and have hired locals as partners. So, the next time you’re searching for high potential medical device, biopharmaceutical, IT, clean tech, or business services companies, why not look in Ohio? I’m pretty sure you’ll like what you find from both a quality (and valuation) standpoint.–Lynn-Ann Gries, President and Chief Investment Officer, JumpStart Inc.

Posted by lagries | Report as abusive