Go West.

“Come on, come on, come on, come on

We will go our way

We will leave someday

Your hand in my hands

We will make our plans

We will fly so high

Tell all our friends goodbye

We will start life new

This is what we’ll do”

Nearly 25 years back, the Petshop Boys, a popular British pop duo, preached the virtues of “going west” extolling the prospect of starting life anew and flying high.

This is advice that a lot of folks in India took to heart, migrating to greener shores in the US and Europe to start new lives. But one Indian entity, a VC firm, seems to have decided to go in the polar opposite direction—Go East—in an attempt to chart a new destiny for itself.

One might be tempted to wave this development away as inconsequential; so what if one lone VC firm in India decided to head East? Normally, it wouldn’t matter, but in this case, it does, as the name of this VC firm is Sequoia Capital (India). With a corpus of over $3 billion and a portfolio of nearly 150 startups, Sequoia Capital is India’s biggest VC by some distance.

But in the recent past, Sequoia has adopted a sharp and decisive focus in Southeast Asia along two important dimensions.

First, the firm has expanded its portfolio in Singapore and Indonesia to more than 15 startups.

More importantly, the firm has moved key personnel from India to Singapore. In March 2017, Shailendra Jit Singh, Sequoia’s Managing Director who was earlier domiciled in Bengaluru, formally moved to Singapore officially assuming the role of CEO of an entity named Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore Pte Ltd. The name may seem clunky but the idea was clear—a geographical focus on Southeast Asia.

Sequoia’s move is interesting for two reasons. It gives us a prism to examine the past leading up to the status quo: can we glean anything about the state of the Indian startup ecosystem from this? Also, it gives us an opportunity to explore the future of VC investing in the region and the underlying sentiments and imperatives.

Sequoia in India

Let’s start with taking a look at Sequoia’s history.

Founded in California in 1972, Sequoia is arguably the world’s most prestigious VC firm. Sequoia’s list of hits includes marquee names such as Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, and WhatsApp. Sequoia’s first serious look into India was in 2006.


Sumanth Raghavendra

Sumanth is a serial entrepreneur with more than eighteen years experience in running startups. He is currently the founder of Deck App Technologies, a Bangalore-based startup attempting to re-imagine productivity software for the Post-PC era. Sumanth’s columns appear regularly in leading publications. He holds MBA degrees from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and Thunderbird, The American Graduate School of International Management, USA.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.