10 Things You Didn’t Know About Michael Moritz

In the world of venture capitalism, few names stand out more than that of Michael Moritz. Known for his keen insight and unerring ability to recognise winning startup concepts, Moritz has contributed significantly to the tech industry. However, there is more to the man than meets the eye. Here are ten things you did not know about the life and career of Michael Moritz.

1. Moritz Was Originally a Journalist

Before he became a venture capitalist, Moritz began his professional career as a journalist. He graduated from Christ Church, Oxford, with a degree in Modern History and then went on to get an MBA degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. After completing his studies, he worked for Time magazine, where he covered the technology beat and contributed several significant features.

His experience as a journalist honed his powers of observation, analysis, and prediction, all of which would prove instrumental in his later career as a venture capitalist. His work at Time paved the path for his entry into the business world, where he would play a role in shaping the future of technology.

2. Moritz Was an Early Investor in Yahoo

One of Moritz’s most noteworthy achievements in the realm of technology was his early investment in Yahoo. At the time, Yahoo was a tiny startup with little more than a cool name and a handful of employees. However, Moritz spotted the potential for growth and became an enthusiastic supporter.

In 1995, Sequoia Capital, where Moritz was a partner, invested $1 million in the fledgling company. That turned out to be one of the smartest decisions Moritz ever made. Today, the initial investment is worth many billions – a testament to Moritz’s ability to recognise dollar signs where others see question marks.

3. He Played a Key Role in the Success of Google

Apart from Yahoo, Moritz also played a significant part in the success of another tech giant– Google. He led Sequoia Capital’s early investment in the search engine at a time when it was a startup run by Larry Page and Sergey Brin from their Stanford University dorm room.

His vision helped Google set very high standards from its infancy, which directed the company on its path to becoming one of the biggest technology companies. Michael Moritz’s ability to spot potential in the early stages of a tech startup has repeatedly been proven over the years, and Google is a prime example of that.

4. Michael Moritz Is a Philanthropist

In addition to being a venture capitalist, Moritz is also a significant philanthropist. He has a long history of donations, including a $50 million contribution to Christ Church, his former College at Oxford University, for the funding of scholarships for students from low income backgrounds. He and his wife Harriet Heyman also donated $30 million to the University of California, San Francisco for biomedical research.

Their philanthropic contributions show their recognition of the importance of investing in both technology and the human intellect that powers it. This duality has characterised Moritz’s career and underlines his commitment to building a better world.

5. He Struggles With a Medical Condition

In 2012, Michael Moritz revealed that he had been diagnosed with a rare, incurable medical condition, which he did not publicly disclose. This development led to his decision to step back from day-to-day management at Sequoia Capital and take on a less demanding role, focusing more on nurturing young companies.

Despite this setback, Moritz continues to be active, both in his professional life and his philanthropic endeavours. His resilience in the face of adversity is a testament to his character and his unwavering commitment to his work.

6. He Has Authored Several Books

Moritz’s literary flair did not extinguish when he turned to venture capitalism; he has written numerous books, including the best-selling business book “The Little Kingdom,” which offers an early history of Apple. He has also co-authored “Return to the Little Kingdom,” “Going for Broke,” and “Leading.”

His experiences in the business world offers him unique insights, making his books a rich resource for anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of business, especially in the tech realm. His combination of literary skills and business acumen gives Moritz a unique perspective, which he shares generously through his writing.

7. He is Originally From Wales

Born in 1954 in Cardiff, Wales, to Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany, Moritz emigrated to the United States in 1976. His diverse cultural background and early experiences, including the challenges faced by his immigrant parents, significantly influenced Moritz’s worldview, making him more attuned to identifying and scaling potential opportunities.

Although he is now settled in the United States, Moritz considers his Welsh roots to be a fundamental aspect of his identity. He has used his success to give back to his home town, including funding a substantial scholarship programme for students from Wales to study at Oxford.

8. Michael Moritz Is A Billionaire

Moritz, thanks to his successful bets on startups like Yahoo and Google, is worth billions. According to Forbes, he has a net worth of more than $3.4 billion, making him one of the richest people in the world.

His financial success is a testament to his business acuity and his knack for spotting trends before they become mainstream. Despite his massive wealth, Moritz leads a relatively low-profile life, away from the limelight that usually follows billionaires.

9. He Believes in “Anti-Portfolio”

Moritz strongly believes in the concept of “Anti-Portfolio,” the notion that accepting past misses are a part of the venture capital industry. He argues that understanding and learning from the businesses you didn’t invest in is a crucial aspect of the venture capitalist’s journey.

This novel, self-reflective approach distinguishes Moritz as not just a successful investor, but also a thoughtful entrepreneur. It is an indication of his constant learning attitude and his willingness to embrace failure as an opportunity for growth.

10. He Received A Knighthood

In recognition of his achievements in promoting British economic interests and his philanthropic work in arts and education, Moritz was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013.

The honour was a significant personal acknowledgment for Moritz and underscored the broad impact of his work. While he is known primarily for his venture capitalism, the knighthood reflected his contributions to society at large, outside the tech and business world.

Michael Moritz at Sequoia Capital
Michael Moritz Profile on Forbes
Michael Moritz on Goodreads