Today, at the Post-Seed conference in San Francisco, Alfred Lin, the former COO and CFO of Zappos and now a Sequoia Capital partner, was asked a variety of on-stage questions about the current market.
Among them was whether Lin thinks it’s a good time to start a fund. “Probably not,” he said. “Valuations are high. But it doesn’t matter if you’re [thinking] long term,” he said. “If you’re building something enduring, you’re going to face lots of ups and downs anyway and you might as well start today.” As he noted, “It only gets more competitive in this world” of investing.
Lin was also asked about the changing landscape and talked about the slowdown he expects next year, prompted by rate changes that the Federal Reserve is expected to enact shortly. “With interest rates close to zero, you can’t make money in the bond market,” he said. “So the bond people now invest in stocks, and people who invest in stocks invest in private growth rounds . . . and VCs invest in seed deals.” That’ll all change when the Fed starts raising rates, which Lin anticipates it may do “maybe even once a quarter.” Once that happens, he said, “There will be less money chasing companies all the way down the spectrum.”
Lin was also asked to take a look back and address some of Sequoia’s most impactful decisions in recent years. He was asked, for example, why Sequoia invested in the accommodations marketplace Airbnb but passed on the ride-sharing company Uber.