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Less is More -Sequoia does a Mallika Sherwat with their website

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Sequoiacap

What do you think of the above snapshot?

A new search engine?

Nah..you got it wrong. This is the internet home of one of the biggest Venture Capitalist firms Sequoia capital who have funded the likes of tutorvista, cotton county retail along with the real biggies like Apple, Google et all.

Surprised, well you should be. Even I was shocked the first time I saw the revamped homepage of Sequoia. Now, had I not known what Sequoia capital before, I would have branded it as a wannabe search engine.

Well, how on earth could a website rewrite the limits of minimalistic Web UI with just providing a search box as their landing page. But then, Sequoia did it and it is for all of us to see.

All said and done, how was it accepted by the folks in the Internet space? I can’t vouch for a huge dataset but a search on twitter suggests that Sequoia has managed to raise as many eyebrows as praises for this crazy move they pulled off. Surprisingly, this time around it is not unjustified criticism that is doing the rounds.

The critics have been spot on with their concerns and allegations.Here are some of the finer points that I could pull up. They have all been sourced from twitter search and would have loved to credit all of them individually lest for causing redundancy and link overload

Critics:

  • Poor usability
  • Caters to only a matured and well targeted user base, thereby making itself hidden from the normal crowd
  • An ego boost-"Everyone knows us"
  • Making relevant information difficult to access
  • Calling it stupid – period
  • A publicity/marketing stunt gone too far

There were more and probably will continue to crop up as more and more people come across it.

Given the fact, that I am no where close to call myself a VC literate, I frankly did find the search results not to my liking. But, then did I actually know what I wanted to search for? may be not… but for something that I did know what a VC site is to be used for , I did type the following in the Search box.

"How do I get funding"

how do I get funding

 

And boy-o-boy, it did the job for me. Bulls eye it was. I was straight on their ‘Submit a business plan’ page with their contact details right there.

So, from all that I gather the move is a bold and refreshing change from the usual change we have gotten accustomed to. Now, that’s why I call challenging the Web 2.0 limits.

More than generating truck loads of BUZZ , positive or negative, it is something that is shouting out what they actually are-Venture Capitalist. Here is why I think so.

I may not have read too much literature on the VC dynamics , but whatever I gathered from my scant readings, here are some terms that epitomize VC’s

  • Bold and Crazy – Yes, you have to be crazy enough to invest millions of dollars into a company that may not even have a ongoing revenue model. A Venture Capitalist firm and its team have to be crazy to back ideas that may sound crazy at first
  • Risk Takers– Imagine investing a dime into a so called product idea that has never been tried before. It is impossible, but it is just another day at work for a VC firm.
  • Believers in Change– Entrepreneurship is on most counts bringing about change, moving away from the usual. A VC firm has to be a believer in change too. What better way to go ahead and be a part of the change.
  • Stretching Boundaries– VC firms help worthy ventures break the growth barriers. How about pulling one off by stretching the limits themselves.
  • Focus on The Target Audience– With a well identified target audience comes better analytics and better insights, that’s what VC’s help the backed up ventures to achieve. So, why not do it for themselves.

With the website usability getting shrunken to a more educated and a matured user base, they have the right audience searching for right information

This is my hypothesis and the extrapolations may not be right. But, I heartily admired the Paradigm Shift that Sequoia capital might have initiated with their website re-design. In fact, with ‘Targeted Search’ being touted as the next paradigm of the Internet, Sequoia Capital have arrived at the scene quite early. And don’t we know, VC’s have the knack of foreseeing future before the rest of world does.

However, I am not completely biased in my opinion. I did try some relevant searches like "Clients","portfolios" etc, which surprisingly uses Google Custom Search Results for their content. The results were basically their Press Releases of investments etc. Not much to my liking !

With that I bring to rest my case. They have taken a bold step and I applaud them for that – Whether it works for them, time will tell.

Goes without saying that i would appreciate your thoughts on the website re-design in question. Would you approve of it??

PS:: With Channel V doing a not so great ‘I saw The Change’ campaign on Twitter, I wonder if I can pull their slogan and say – I saw the change at Sequoia !

[This post is written by Ankit Agarwal, an ERP Consultant by profession, a wannabe entrepreneur and stock market stalker by passion]

  1. Ankit says

    Thanks Sriram!!! It infact needs a lot of balls to go ahead and strip to this level.

    So, for the website space, we can actually pull one more from Jockey’s brand line

    The next best thing to naked!!

    Even though the revamp has drwan a lot of ire from people all over, it still makes sense and solves the information overload problem.
    With time probably, the ajax based predictive search will become more refined
    I was skeptical when i put this one together.a desginer friend of mine told, it is a catastrophe on the context that it does not tell her anything about t company.
    And i was like “they are targetting people who know what to do” and she was like “Why would i go t site,i would rather call the contact”.
    The points made by her were valid for a certain extent, but then change is the need of the hour and people will come to terms with it sooner or later.

  2. Sriram Vadlamani says

    That’s dope mate. Really neat interface.
    Mallika Sherawat has to learn a thing or two from Sequoia.

    When you boil it you are left with what matters. The essential. Sequoia can dare to do this because it is not relying on any advertising money. One should commend Google for their clutter-less interface even though they rely upon advertising.

    Rediff did a bold revamp earlier. I think everyone, by now, realizes the power of less.

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