Venture Capitalist Michael Moritz Says He’s Stepping Back From Sequoia Because Of Illness

In very sad news, Michael Moritz, who has helped lead top-tier venture firm Sequoia Capital through the very beginnings of the web until now, is stepping back because of an incurable disease. His firm has backed many of the home runs of the last two decades including Google, Yahoo and PayPal.

He’ll still be involved in Sequoia, but less so in the day-to-day workings of the firm. Moritz is a journalist-turned-investor who chronicled the beginnings of Apple for Time Magazine and in his book, “The Little Kingdom: the Private Story of Apple Computer.” Not long after, he crossed over into investing and shepherded Sequoia through some of the biggest seismic shifts in the technology industry over the last two decades. He got the firm into the initial $25 million venture investment into Google back in 1999. He has also seen its expansion overseas into Israel and China.

This is a huge shift for one of the Valley’s most storied firms. Sequoia will be looking to its next generation of venture investors including Doug Leone, PayPal mafia member Roelof Botha, former Zappos chief operating officer Alfred Lin, Bryan Schreier, who sits on Dropbox’s board, and Neil Shen, who represents Sequoia in China to lead it forward.

Attached is a letter he sent to limited partners this morning:

Dear …,

We have always tried to be straightforward with you and, in that spirt, I need to share something. Unfortunately, I have been diagnosed with a rare medical condition which can be managed but is incurable.  I’ve been told that in the next five to ten years the quality of my life is quite likely to decline.  Right now I feel fitter than ever and I hope that I’ll be one of the lucky ones who can live a full life and defy the statisticians.  But there is no way of predicting this with certainty and thus for me, life has assumed a different meaning and I am making some adjustments.

I am going to extract myself from the daily management of Sequoia Capital, a task that has consumed a large part of my time for the past sixteen years.  I will become Chairman of Sequoia Capital and will be deeply involved with nurturing the fresh investments, ideas and relationships that can be of significant long-term benefit for all of us.  I will also work very closely with some of our younger and newer members, will continue my role as Managing Member of existing funds and maintain all my current company responsibilities.  I will use twelve to fourteen weeks – sprinkled throughout the course of each year – for various pursuits, diversions and trivial indulgences.

Nothing about this should cause much of a change because everything that has been achieved at Sequoia Capital has resulted from the teamwork and contribution of many people.   Our overall business is in the best shape it has ever been and we are better positioned than at any time in our forty year history.  Doug Leone will assume full responsibility for coordinating the business we have gradually developed over the past couple of decades and almost everything else remains entirely the same.

Thanks for your support,

Michael Moritz