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US Venture Capital Titan Sequoia to Split Off China Business Amid Tension With Beijing

Venture capital titan Sequoia is splitting its business into three independent partnerships, each with separate brands. 

The Silicon Valley-based firm’s expansive investments in China, which have drawn attention from US lawmakers amid growing geopolitical tensions with Beijing, will become their own unit.

Sequoia Capital executives briefed investors Tuesday about the plans, which are expected to be completed by March 2024. The firm’s operations in Europe and the United States will retain the current name, Sequoia Capital. Its Chinese unit, Sequoia China, will use its current Chinese name, HongShan. The company’s business operations in India and Southeast Asia will be spun off into a partnership named Peak XV Partners.

The firm is known for investing early in globally successful US companies such as Google, Apple, Airbnb and a long list of others. The company came under fire earlier this year for hyping the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX in 2021, but the firm remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of venture capital.

Sequoia’s executives said the move will allow its operations to become more efficient by allowing each entity to handle its own administrative operations, such as IT, finance and accounting.

“It has become increasingly complex to run a decentralized global investment business,” company officials Roelof Botha, Neil Shen and Shailendra Singh said in a news release. “This has made using centralized back-office functions more of a hindrance than an advantage.”

Sequoia has invested generously in Chinese startups across growth stages, including food-delivery company Meituan, e-commerce marketplace Pinduoduo and ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok.

The moves come on the back of growing scrutiny from US lawmakers about Beijing’s influence on Chinese companies doing business in the United States. A group of congressional Republicans in April called on the Biden administration to “use all available tools” to sanction cloud computing firms with links to China. TikTok filed a suit against Montana over a bill in the state’s legislature that would ban the app in the state starting early next year.

China might also be losing its allure to investors because of economic uncertainty in the country, rising geopolitical tensions and Beijing’s crackdown on international consulting firms. Recent data point to a weaker-than-expected recovery in the world’s second-largest economy after government officials ditched their costly zero-Covid policy.

Sequoia has reportedly been consulting with US national security experts to vet its potential investments in Chinese companies, The Wall Street Journal first reported earlier this year.

Source: CNN