How to raise money from Sequoia Capital

Bambi Francisco Roizen · September 22, 2010 · Short URL:

Reasons to attend Splash: Hear lessons from entrepreneurs Peter Thiel, Kevin Hartz, Dick Costolo

Want to know what it takes to land funding from Sequoia Capital, one of the leading VCs in the Valley, having invested in Google, Yahoo, Zappos, YouTube and Apple, to name a few?

Kevin Hartz, CEO and founder of Eventbrite, who not once but twice raised funds from this august VC, plans to give an in-depth look at what it takes to wow them and how the firm works with entrepreneurs once money is invested. Hartz is one of our three keynote presenters sharing timeless lessons and advice to entrepreneurs at our upcoming Vator Splash.

On Thursday, Sept. 30, Vator is holding its evening event to celebrate entrepreneurship at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. It's been a crazy couple months, as you can imagine. But I'm excited to say that this event will be one of our best gatherings for a number of reasons, which I will go through.

There are still early-bird tickets left before they go up next Monday, a few days before the event. So, go to our registration page to purchase them now before they bump up.

"VatorSplash is a great event, bringing together entrepreneurs and investors to discuss the latest trends in start-up technologies. Keynote speeches from seasoned entrepreneurs also gives insight into how difficult it can be to build a company, with even the most successful companies having experienced significant mistakes and setbacks.  It’s a great opportunity for startups from all over the country to get access to the Silicon Valley network," said Howard Hartenbaum, venture capitalist at August Capital.

We've had some great entrepreneur speakers during our past events, including Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus talk about scaling a business and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's standing-ovation speech.

This time around, we've got other superstar entrepreneurs who will once again bring words of wisdom to the crowd.

One of the most sought-after angel/VC investors today is Peter Thiel, who founded Clarium Capital (hedge fund) and Founders Fund (Silicon Valley venture firm). Thiel was one of the first investors in Facebook, having given Mark Zuckerberg $500,000 for a 10% stake in the social network. Rumor has it that Thiel sold "some" of his shares to the tune of $90 million, making his investment one of the best in history, according to David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect." Thiel also was one of the co-founders of PayPal, a legendary startup whose founders and early employees spawned an extraordinary number of leading consumer Internet startups. Max Levchin, CTO and PayPal co-founder, went on to launch Slide, which was sold to Google recently for some $228 million. Levchin was also integral in getting Yelp off the ground, with his early investment of $1 million. Former PayPal CFO Roelof Botha joined Sequoia, which eventually invested in Eventbrite.

As mentioned above, Eventbrite's Hartz is also scheduled to share his lessons about building his companies and raising cash. Eventbrite raised $6.5 million from Sequoia last year. And, prior to Eventbrite, Hartz raised $14.4 million from Sequoia for Xoom, a money transfer firm. It'll be interesting to hear Hartz talk about  what it takes to get one of the most high-profile VC firms to make a bet. Hartz is also a prolific angel investor, having also been part of the PayPal mafia in some way as an early investor. Since then Hartz has invested in a few dozen startups including recent investments in Airbnb, InDinero, and mobile security firm, Lookout. As well as past investments in Geni, Friendster, TripIt, Flixster, Adnectar, Yammer, TokBox, iControl, Boku, Flexilis, Anonymizer, and Trulia.

Dick Costolo is the COO of Twitter. Will Costolo give us an update on how many users Twitter has and how many Tweets they're making daily? Possibly. But we do know that Dick has managed start a company and get to an exit with one of the most respected buyers - Google.  Prior to Twitter, Costolo founded FeedBurner, which was eventually sold to Google for some $100 million.

Feedburner, which was founded in 2004, was one of the first feed management tools online.  

Of course, the evening event will also showcase 10 promising startups that will (by then) have gone through two rounds of competition: first, a popular round and second, a judges' round. Currently, the judges' round is in process. But the 10 finalists should know where they stand by Friday. To see all the contestants, you can check out the online competition.

We look forward to highlighting these companies as often they become amazing startups to keep an eye on. Udemy won our last Vator Splash (May) and in August raised $1 million in funding.

Finally, what's an evening event without entertainment? Don't forget that the night is topped off with venture capitalists and startup executives who are all business during the day, and rock stars by night. This is not just any old band. The band members consist of Mayfield VC Raj Kapoor, Norwest VC Tim Chang, Blippy founder Phil Kaplan, Ethan Beard, director of business development at Facebook, and Prashant Fuloria, manager of monetization products at Facebook. 

Hope to see you at Splash!

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.


What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.

Eventbrite, Inc.


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Eventbrite is the world’s largest self-service ticketing platform, and enables people all over the world to plan, promote, and sell out any event. The online event registration service has helped organizers process over 130 million tickets in 179 countries, and makes it easy for everyone to discover and share the events with people they know. In this way, Eventbrite brings communities together by encouraging people to connect through live experiences. Eventbrite's investors include DAG Ventures, Sequoia Capital, T. Rowe Price, Tenaya Capital and Tiger Global. Learn more at



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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit


Mark Pincus

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Tim Chang

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Tim is a proven venture investor and experienced global executive, and was named on the 2011 Forbes Midas List of Top 100 Dealmakers.

Rajil Kapoor

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Chief Strategy Officer at Lyft & Head AV Business, former CEO/cofounder of Fitmob & Snapfish, former MD at Mayfield Fund

Tony Hsieh

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Dick Costolo

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Philip Kaplan

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Kevin Hartz

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Peter Thiel

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Managing Partner, Founders Fund

Prashant Fuloria

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