BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

When Roelof Botha was still at school in South Africa, he attended a Nerd Camp where he met Matthew Rabinowitz who would later establish Natera, a life-saving health tech company. Later they reconnected in the US and Roelof ended up funding a health tech startup founded by Rabinowitz.

This is just a single snapshot example of Botha’s impact through his work as a venture capitalist. As of this year , his impact will be felt more as he assumes a global role in leading the world’s leading venture​​ capital firm, Sequoia Capital.

Roelof has been one of the most influential business leaders in the venture capital space. This is a great achievement for someone whose first job was to go door-to-door as a salesman for Golden Products. At the University of Cape Town, he studied actuarial science, economics, and statistics, and became the youngest licensed actuary in South Africa’s history at 22. But instead of waiting for handouts from grandpa, Pik Botha – a former minister in apartheid South Africa, Botha decided to join McKinsey for half the salary, with the hopes that it could be a springboard to living and working abroad.

This became a reality as 6 years later after graduating he would lead eBay’s public listing on the New York Stock Exchange. He has served on boards of the leading tech companies such as Youtube, Instagram, and Square.

He is credited with pioneering a new way of investing in the VC space. He is behind the Sequoia Capital Fund which pools together LP money into a larger portfolio of publicly traded companies. The Sequoia Capital Fund then feeds a group of more traditional venture sub-funds, which return their proceeds — including shares of publicly traded companies, earned through IPOs, acquisitions, or other deals — back into the main fund.

What this means is that Sequoia is giving up some of the advantages of being a VC firm (mostly lighter regulation) and becoming a registered investment adviser, allowing it to invest more of its cash in secondary offerings, crypto, and perhaps other venture funds.

This rugby-playing salesman from South Africa now joins another leading businessman from SA, Elon Musk, in shaping the global economy via funding tech startups.