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Sequoia becomes largest VC fund in India, looses three directors in past 15 months


Sequoia India became the largest VC fund in the country after raising its slashed sixth fund at $695 million, which was earlier $1 billion, on Tuesday.

Its total assets under management now stand at 3.9 billion, way more than VC firms including Nexus Venture Partners, Accel Partners and SAIF partners.

Earlier, in its fifth round, the Silicon-based VC firm raised $930 Mn in February 2016.

In the last 12 years, the VC firm has invested in almost 200 firms across sectors such as technology, consumer and healthcare financial services. The venture capital firm has invested in unicorns such as Ola, MuSigma and Zomato in late stage.

Its early-stage investments include Citrus, Faasos, FreeCharge, Grofers, Mobikwik, Practo and Pine Labs among many others. It has deployed more than $2 billion and exited over 55 firms in India.

Even as it continues to invest in tech and non-tech startups and raise funds, the top level exits are happening in the VC firm. Now Abhay Pandey, after 11 years stint as MD of Sequoia, has quit the fund. For Sequoia, he led investments like Vini Cosmetics, Bira 91 and Indigo Paints. He was looking to separate the consumer portfolio at the fund.

Pandey is third MD to leave the venture capital firm in the last 15-month. The series of exits raise questions about the working of the venture firm.

First being Gautam Mago, who in June last year, quit after disagreement among directors (other five partners) over his investment in the tech sector. He, however, contested the report appeared on the Ken raising a question mark over his investment track record by sources.

In 2017, there was also a discussion amongst partners over-investment in many sectors raising question over not having clarity and focus. Last year, it invested about $183 million across 23 deals in India, across technology, consumer, and healthcare sectors, according to data research platform Venture Intelligence.

Mago exit was just the beginning of discontent inside the firm. Later, in April this year, VT Bharadwaj quit the firm saying he doesn’t enjoy the environment anymore.

Later, both Bharadwaj and Mago floated a fund—A91 Partners, to invest in privately held small- and mid-sized companies. A TOI report said that Pandey may join them soon.

Besides, as part of South East Asia expansion plan, in 2016, General Partner Shailendra Singh was relocated from Bangalore to Singapore. According to Sequoia, India and SEA are at an inflection point, and it is witnessing the high quality of new investment opportunities.

The combined region is projected to have GDP of over $14 trillion in 2030 and will likely have over 1.5 billion mobile internet users by then. Many of the up-and-coming startups of today are going to be the category creators and leaders of tomorrow believes Sequoia.

Meanwhile, out of seven, now only four directors GV Ravishanker, VT Bhardwaj, Mohit Bhatnagar and Shailesh Lakhani have remained with Sequoia India.

Whether the team will see more exits, only time will tell. But how Sequoia carries forward the largest VC fund tag in India, will be keenly watched by stakeholders.

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