Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital

It was a very neat afternoon today.  Silicon Valley Bank hosted a special luncheon with Mike Moritz of Sequoia Capital.  He spoke about his book the Return of the Little Kingdom.

You can find information about Moritz here and here.  Although you can simply define Moritz’s success by some of the companies he has invested in.  These company names are all that is needed to be said: Yahoo, PayPal, Google, YouTube, Pure Digital (FlipCam), Zappos.  Yes, this is a sic list of companies, Wow!  He is considered to be on of the top VCs in the history of the venture capital industry.

Below is recap of some of Moritz comments/thoughts that are paraphrased and also includes some of my thoughts as well.

One of the members in the audience asked about the deals that he regrets not investing in.  He named several, but the most recent and relevant company he “passed” on was Netflix.  Moritz regrets not investing in this company as they have revolutionized the way movies are distributed.  He indicated that he invested in a similar type company that addresses a different market, GameFly, the Netflix for video games.

Moritz compares Sony to Apple, meaning that at one point Sony was THE consumer electronics company in the world and they lost their position when their Founder/CEO Akio Morita stepped down.  Moritz indicated the biggest challenge for Apple is going to be the day when the Founder/CEO Steve Jobs steps down.  He also indicated that the person who eventually replace Jobs, can’t be effective if he/she ask themselves “what would have Steve done” when tough decisions need to be made.  The person who replaces Jobs will need to have their own persona and unique ideas about how to run Apple.

Mortiz highlights the fact that the market cap of Apple at one time was $1B and that it is now nearing a market cap of $250B ($217B as of April 6, 2010).  The company has had a historic turnaround, look at the increase in stock price over the last ~13 years, $3.24 on December 23, 1997 and $239.54 on April 6, 2010.

Moritz is amazed by the level of detail that Jobs focuses on.  When Moritz spent time with Jobs, when preparing to write his book, Jobs was involved in the very little details and continues to do so today even though they are a much larger company compared to their early days in the 1980’s.

Apple creates products that their employees would use.  They don’t create products based on user groups/feedback.  The geeks at Apple want to best devices and are the ones who know what the market needs.  After Jobs returned back to Apple, after being fired, Jobs took a look at all the products that Apple was working and decided that Apple needed to focus on creating a few great products, now a bunch of products that were similiar to their competitors.

Remember the Think Different ads by Apple?  Mortiz believes that the ad was geared towards Apple employees and not consumers.  He believes that Jobs used this as a “calling card” for his employees.

Moritz indicates that one of the reasons that Jobs is so successful is that he is able to see the future before it happens.  The point is that you don’t create products on what is currently happening, you need to project what the market will need in a few years.  He is a visionary, which is a word that is really overused.  Jobs is a real visionary.

Mortiz commented that not many people could have led a company on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990’s to leading a remarkable turnaround.  Moritz indicated that Jobs tough experiences allowed him to have the mindset to persevere; Moritz indicated that we need to remember that Jobs was kicked out of Apple, the company HE created.  This must have been an embarrassing situation to say the least, but provided a tough life lesson that was useful to Jobs.

One of the audience members asked a question about the evolution of the media sector and if Moritz has seen an influx of companies founded by ex-traditional media professionals.  Moritz essentially said that most traditional media professionals do not get technology and therefore have a challenge in creating new evolving companies in new media.  He did indicate that if you’re a programmer with the sensibilities of someone from the traditional media, the world is your oyster.  One of the earlier comments of Moritz is that three companies are revolutionizing or revolutionized traditional media: Apple, Netflix, YouTube (Google).

Moritz was kind enough to stay after his talk and Q&A and sign his book for the 80+ CEOs/Founders who attended the event.  I had my book signed as well and am looking forward to reading it.

Venturebeat wrote a blog post on this luncheon, read it here.  In addition, Drue Kataoka wrote a blog post, read it here.

For those who attended the luncheon, please comment on any other insightful Moritz comments that I likely have missed.

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