Don Valentine, a venture capitalist who founded Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that helped cement the area’s rise as a technology hub, died on Friday October 25 2019 at his home in Woodside, Calif. He was 87.
Donald T. Valentine has been a director of the company and chairman of the board of directors since September 1994. Valentine has been a general partner of Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm, since 1972.
Mr. Valentine’s career spanned four decades and included roles at the chip maker Fairchild Semiconductor, regarded as Silicon Valley’s original start-up, and National Semiconductor, which was spun out of Fairchild. In 1959, when he joined a silicon company, “the word ‘Silicon Valley’ hadn’t been created yet,” he said in an interview at a technology conference in 2013.
In 1972, Mr. Valentine established Sequoia, and it soon became one of Silicon Valley’s most successful and enduring firms. Sequoia backed companies including Oracle, Microchip Technology, Linear Technology and Network Appliance. Several tech giants, including Electronic Arts and Sierra Semiconductor, were created in Sequoia’s offices.
Mr. Valentine invested in Atari in 1975, and three years later, he wrote a $150,000 check for Apple Computer. He also invested in Cisco Systems and was the networking equipment company’s chairman for three decades.
Sequoia survived transition when Mr. Valentine handed control to Michael Moritz and Doug Leone in the mid-1990s. He continued to attend partner meetings for the next decade.
Donald Thomas Valentine was born on June 26, 1932, in Manhattan. His father, Milton, was a milkman, and his mother, May Hansen, was a homemaker. He attended Fordham University and studied chemistry before beginning his career in California.
Mr. Valentine is survived by his wife, Rachel; three children, Christian, Mark and Hilary; and seven grandchildren.