Lin is a Partner at Sequoia Capital; he was previously the COO, CFO, and Chairman of Zappos
We are hosting our second annual Post Seed (#postseedconf) event, co-hosted by Bullpen Capital and Venture51, on Dec. 1 at Ruby Skye in San Francisco. The event - which we expect to draw more than 500 attendees - kicks off at 8 am and ends around 5 pm.
One of the keynote speakers who we're proud to welcome is Alfred Lin, Partner at Sequoia Capital. He will be interviewed by Vator's founder and CEO Bambi Francisco.
Lin holds a B.A. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard and an M.S. in Statistics from Stanford.
Prior to joining Sequoia in 2010, Lin was the COO, CFO, and Chairman of Zappos. Lin met Tony Hsieh, the future CEO of Zappos, while he was at Harvard. During his talk at Vator Splash in 2010, Hsieh mentioned how, when he was in college, he sold pizzas in his Harvard dorm.
Lin would buy them constantly, and Hsieh didn't find that to be very strange since Lin had a reputation for having a huge appetite. What Hsieh found out years later, though, was that Lin was actually selling them by the slice, revealing a budding businessman in the making.
In 1996, Lin dropped out of a Ph.D program at Stanford to join Hsieh at LinkExchange as CFO.
"When I was in a PhD program in statistics, Tony [Hsieh] would say that must be like watching paint dry, in the dark, as part of his way to recruit me into LinkExchange," Lin says on his Sequoia profile. "I would laugh at that because, while I love math and numbers, I also had a passion for business. Dropping out was a hard conversation with my traditional Taiwanese parents."
Less than two years later, LinkExchange sold to Microsoft for $265 million. Lin was the VP of Finance and Business Development of Tellme Networks, which also sold to Microsoft, this time for $800. It was after that he went to work at Zappos.
He also co-founded Venture Frogs, an incubator and investment firm, also with Hsieh, which invested in 27 startups, including both Tellme networks and Zappos, as well as companies that included OpenTable, Ask Jeeves, Entango, NeoPlanet and Fusion.com
"All the companies that we were in, where LinkExchange was in advertising, Tellme Networks was in self-serve customer service, and Zappos, which was selling shoes and handbags and clothing online, all those markets are huge. And how you go about the business model is to find a market that's huge and try something. Try a revenue model. It may not work but try as hard as you can, and then if it works, great, keep focus on that model and keep going. And if it doesn't, continue to iterate and move through those challenges," Lin told Vator founder and CEO Bambi Francisco in an interview in 2010.
Throughout his days as an entrepreneur, in all three companies, Lin had pitched to Sequoia Capital. So when it came time to leave Zappos, Sequoia seemed like a natural fit.
"I joined Sequoia because I had worked with Sequoia partners for a long time as an operator, and almost all Sequoia partners have worked at companies, started companies, and been part of the management team at companies that have done extraordinary things," he says, on his Sequoia profile.
"At Sequoia, we don’t want to be treated any differently than your co-founder or your management team. We want to be there in the trenches with you, and be able to discuss any problem you have. We pride ourselves on being the first call you make when you want unconventional and prescient advice."
Since joining the firm, Lin has made investments in some top companies and even some unicorns.
That includes Airbnb. Lin was at Sequoia before Airbnb raised its Series A round of $7.2 million and he has now been involved with three investments in the company: its $200 million Series C, its $475 million Series D and it's $1.5 billion private equity round. Lin currently sits on the board of directors of Airbnb.
He was involved in the $17.3 million Series A, and $40 million Series B round, for DoorDash. He also invested in multipe rounds in Houzz, including its $165 Series D round. Lin also sits on the board of that company as well.
Lin invested in Uber for $30,000 during its seed round, and then $80,000 during Uber's Series A round, though he invested as an angel, not via Sequoia.
Other investments have included FutureAdvisor, Humbl Bundle, Instacart, Kiwi, Moovit, reddit, Romotive, Shopular, Stella & Dot and Trippy.
Lin currently sits on the board of directors at a number of companies, including, Achievers, FutureAdvisor,, Humble Bundle, Stella & Dot, Kiwi, and Romotive.
While Lin doesn't get much press coverage, simply because he doesn't seek it, the coverage he does get it glowing. TechCrunch, for example, said that he has "the Midas touch," aka the ability to turn anything into gold.
In addition to Lin, our other speakers will include John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins), Rebecca Lynn (Canvas Venture Fund), Paige Craig (Arena Ventures), Satya Patel (Homebrew), Scott Kupor (Andreessen Horowitz) and Vinod Khosla (Khosla Ventures). We're also excited to have Cory Johnson, anchor at Bloomberg West, broadcasting live from 7 am to 11 am PST. It should be a riveting day! Register here:Post Seed 2015.
(Image source: sequoiacap.com)
Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs
Joined Vator on
Our goal is to position Zappos as the online service leader. If we can get customers to associate the Zappos.com brand with the absolute best service, then we can expand into other product categories beyond shoes. And, we're doing just that.
Internally, we have a saying: We are a service company that happens to sell ________.
- and handbags
- and clothing
- and eyewear
- and watches
- and accessories
- (and eventually anything and everything)
Joined Vator on
Sequoia Capital is a venture capital firm founded by Don Valentine in 1972. The Wall Street Journal has called Sequoia Capital “one of the highest-caliber venture firms” and noted that it is “one of Silicon Valley’s most influential venture-capital firms”. It invests between $100,000 and $1 million in seed stage, between $1 million and $10 million in early stage, and between $10 million and $100 million in growth stage.