Doug Leone undoubtedly is one of the great tech investors of his generation. As the Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital, often ranked at the top of Silicon Valley’s VC firms, he’s one of a handful of individuals shaping the industry.
You may not have heard of his past deals or current portfolio companies. He’s not the Sequoia VC who led the firm’s investments in Apple, Google, PayPal, Yahoo!, Whatsapp, or Instagram. But his investment in Nubank landed him a #12 spot on Forbes’ Midas List, the annual ranking of the top VCs worldwide.
An Italian immigrant who arrived in the United States at the age of 11, Leone likes to remind his auditors he had to work his way into venture capital. It didn’t just happen, he had to make it happen.
His recipe for success? You don’t know what’s coming. So you need to be listening to the weak signals.
“The biggest outcomes come when you break your previous mental model. The black-swan events of the past forty years—the PC, the router, the Internet, the iPhone—nobody had theses around those. So what’s useful to us is having Dumbo ears.”
Having ears on the ground means being connected to the entire ecosystem, from the tech leader with a vision spanning twenty years to the disgruntled junior designer who will eventually leave the company and found a successful startup.
How do you build referral networks as an Investor, or as a Founder?
💬 Become a member to comment or post a new quote, apply here
I found several points interesting about this article.
1, The Forbes’ Midas List. I didn’t know that even existed. I spent 15 minutes looking at that and found it to be a useful resource for connecting to future investors.
2, I always -love- learning about immigrant stories. I don’t think people realize the importance of immigrants in the business landscape. Statistically, Immigrants are 2X more likely to become business owners in the US, compared to natural-born citizens. And second-generation immigrants are 3X more likely to become business owners. Reading that Doug Leone had to find a way into this VC world makes his accomplishments that much more impressive. (43% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s / Founders were 1st or 2nd generation immigrants) 🙂
3, “Dumbo Ears” – We all need to see where the future is heading. Being able to predict the future, is part of our great gifs, as business leaders.
Lastly, this article combines these two concepts beautifully. In order to see where the future is heading, we need to talk to other people. We need to be open to diversity, (Nationality, Skin Color, Gender, or Gender Identity). Immigrants play a huge role in shaping this nation, and we need to embrace them with open arms. There’s a LOT we can learn from other cultures if we are simply willing to have “Dumbo Ears” to listen.