Sequoia: We Didn’t Want to Sell YouTube to Google

There is an interesting quasi-revelation mid-way through a Forbes interview with Sequoia Capital partner Doug Leone. The kids at Sequoia say they didn’t want to sell YouTube to Google:

So what happened with YouTube?

Left to our own devices, we would have kept on going. Maybe it’s
long-term greed. But the public market voted. They must have agreed it
has potential, because Google’s stock went up after the acquisition.

All the most successful companies we have seen at Sequoia–Network Appliance, Cisco, Google, Yahoo! –in their private lives, someone put an offer in front of them. But they didn’t take it.

[Update] A few people asking in email whether I buy any of this, or if it’s just typical VC silliness. Well, sort of. While there is more than a little whiff of Tim Draper’s Skype-selling-saddest-day mad-hatter comment here, I don’t doubt that somewhere deep inside the Sequoia kids think they could have hung onto Sequoia and gotten even bigger. Whether they are right or not is a different question.


  1. in future please put appropriate warnings around posts like this. i read it while enjoying my morning coffee and spit said coffee all over my MacBook!
    seriously, we’ve either just spiked the BS meter (or Hubris meter), or somebody has just proven that stupidity + great contacts = a good exit. but i doubt it.
    come on. these are smart boys. they saw the writing on the wall. and they saw the rube at the table. yes, i am most certainly say ing that google is the rube at the table*. while youtube is most certainly entertaining, pervasive, and disruptive – it is like some type of wierd perfect organism. it does all the things a truly great killer app should do except sully itself with any revenue. like the out of town tourist who has just won the last 10 pots at 1/2 hold em table at resorts in AC, they are just giddy with delight. they’ve got a big stack of chips and have decided these city slickers are no big deal. of course the “slickers” are the traditional media and hollywood who see the rube and its new pet whale and decide to start snacking on it. think about it. the networks and studios whine and moan about how youtube is stealing their content and youtube, like all good junior achievers, promises never to do it again. meanwhile google (new media) pay millions to Old media players so that they can legally play clips or trailers from their tv shows and movies. and at the same time there is still not a bit of advertising on youtube because if there was they would be sued under the fair use/safe harbor provisions of i believe the 96 com act. so let me get this the new, disruptive, web 2.0, new media vs. old media paradigm straight: new media pays old media millions to air clips of old media content (in effect paid advertising) while (the new media company) is never able to monetize their business & infrastructure. okay. i know who the rube at the table was/is and so did Sequoia.
    i think these post transaction comments by Sequoia are what they call in performance magic a re-direction.
    *for those that might not play poker, there is a quotation from Amarillo Slim that goes something like this: “if you don’t know who the rube at the table is then it’s you.”

  2. Link seems broken. The story in question is here.