When Klarna cofounder Sebastian Siemiatkowski heard venture capital firm Sequoia’s pitch a decade ago, he was “blown away.” Here was a famed Silicon Valley investor behind the likes of Apple, Google and YouTube visiting his payments startup all the way in Stockholm – to sell him on their help. But Siematkowski didn’t want to seem too easily wooed. “If we’re really the next Google, why isn’t the whole partnership here? Why is it only you who flew?” he asked Sequoia’s partner in the room at the meeting’s end.
Klarna’s CEO watched the investor get in the elevator. The door closed. Thirty seconds later, his phone rang. It was Sequoia’s billionaire co-leader at the time, Michael Moritz. “He’s like, ‘I’m super sorry I couldn’t make the meeting,’” remembers Siematkowski. “‘If Sequoia is allowed to invest, I’ll be on the board.’” This past September, Klarna reached a valuation of $10.65 billion valuation, making it the highest-valued private startup in Europe. Moritz is still a director on its board.
That emerging success – as