(Ken Silva, Headline USA) When President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. government would effectively bail out Silicon Valley Bank depositors in March, he said it was a decision to protect “American workers and small businesses.”
But recently released documents show that the SVB bailout benefited mega corporations, including Sequoia Capital, a firm that has recently been in the center of controversy for its funding of China tech companies and U.S. politicians.
The documents—which includes a SVB depositor list mistakenly released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Bloomberg—show that Sequoia had a $1 billion investment in SVB covered by the Biden bailout. A representative for Sequoia reportedly declined to comment on the depositor list.
Other depositors to benefit from the SVB bailout include Chinese tech firm Kanzhun, the Jeff Bezos-backed Altos Labs Inc. and streaming set-top box maker Roku Inc.
Conservative political kingmaker Steve Bannon recently focused on Sequoia on his daily show, War Room. Bannon Bannon alleged that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner, R-Ohio, quashed a congressional investigation into Sequoia because the firm supports his colleagues, McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.
Bannon also accused Sequoia of being disloyal to America by funding CCP military tech.
“The reason he’s avoided Sequoia is because they’re a major funder of McCarthy and Scalise. We’ve got the receipts. Mike Turner has shut down an investigation into the Goldman Sachs of venture capital, Sequoia Capital, which is a funding mechanism of the Democratic Party,” Bannon said earlier this month.
“This is the biggest single scandal because Sequoia has taken American pension fund money and funded Chinese military artificial intelligence.”
Turner’s office has not responded to Bannon’s allegation. While his allegation about Turner quashing an investigation into Sequoia is unconfirmed, Bannon is correct that Sequoia is a major political funder that also invests in Chinese tech.
According to Federal Election Committee data, the McCarthy Victory Fund PAC received more than $1 million from Sequoia Global Partner Douglas Leone and his wife, Patricia Perkins-Leone.
And according to political watchdog Open Secrets, individuals affiliated with Sequoia made nearly $8 million in political donations in the 2022 interim elections. Top recipients were the Democrat-affiliated American Bridge 21st Century Fund ($3 million), the National Republican Congressional Committee ($1.1 million) and the Republican-affiliated Senate Leadership Fund ($1 million).
In terms of business investments, Sequoia’s portfolio is broad. The firm has invested in U.S. startups such as Airbnb, WhatsApp and Zoom. Sequoia has also backed Twitter under Elon Musk.
Most recently, Sequoia announced earlier this month that it’s investing in U.S. defense startup Mach Industries—what it called the “first-ever defense tech investment in the venture capital giant’s history.”
“Sequoia’s funding of a technology that aims to use hydrogen creation on the battlefield signals the latest interest from Silicon Valley investors in backing technologies that bolster U.S. national security and working with the Department of Defense,” the company said.
However, Sequoia also has investments in Chinese firms that have been accused of working against American interests.
The most prominent of these investments is TikTok parent company ByteDance, which faces accusations of providing American data to the CCP. Another Sequoia investment is in DJI, which was funded by the CCP and is now the world’s leading maker of drones.
In a May 6 article, the Times of London noted that Sequoia is not directly invested in CCP military contractors. But in China, the line between private company and CCP asset is “far more blurred than in the west.”
“China does a very good job of hiding its military technology inside consumer companies,” an anonymous source told the publication. “In America, these companies don’t have a member of the [Chinese government] CCP or the People’s Republic of China government… on their board. In China, for AI companies, you do.”
Despite these split lines, Sequoia is still preparing for an anticipated Biden White House executive order, which will reportedly limit U.S. firms from investing in Chinese tech. Sequoia announced two weeks ago that it’s splitting up its U.S., China and India operations into separate entities to avoid geopolitical conflicts.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.