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VC Rebranding: What Purpose Does It Serve, and Why Is It Important? IDG Ventures India changed its name to Chiratae Ventures in 2018 and Inventus India rebranded the company as Athera Venture Partners in 2022 to reiterate their vision and focus. In addition, Sequoia Capital changed its name this year to Peak XV Partners, taking its cue from Mount Everest, whose previous name was Peak XV until it was changed.

By Sujata Sangwan

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IDG Ventures India, one of the country's leading early-stage venture capital firms, changed its name to Chiratae Ventures in 2018 as part of a broader strategy to move away from the global brand and appeal more to entrepreneurs in India. Then, in 2022, Inventus India, which was established in 2006 as a cross border firm investing in the United States (US) and India, rebranded the firm as Athera Venture Partners to reiterate its vision and focus.

According to Athera at the time, the new identity's Indian-ness fits with its emphasis on investing in the Indian startup ecosystem. The meaning reiterates the firm's investment philosophy - that of being a companion to visionary founders on their path to success and prosperity.

In addition, one of the most revered names in venture capital, Sequoia Capital, stated this year that it was splitting its business into three independent entities for the US and Europe, China, and India and Southeast Asia (SEA). The India and SEA business would be rebranded as Peak XV Partners, drawing inspiration from Mount Everest, which was once known as Peak XV before being renamed, which is more significant for those living in this country.

What was the reason behind the change?

"The coming years will need us to be more agile, more innovative, give long-term support for startups, and recognise and adapt to these changes," said Sudhir Sethi, Founder and Chairman of IDG Ventures India during rebranding. "As investors, we'll scale up not just our investments but also our exits and returns to our limited partners. To reflect the essence of this change, we are changing our identity."

This was the first instance in India's history of venture capital businesses where an Indian affiliate of an international investment firm underwent a change to become an entirely Indian entity. The Kannada word for leopard, Chiratae, resonates with the firm's wildlife enthusiasts.

What made rebranding crucial?

Shailendra Singh, Managing Director of Peak XV Partners, said that the split was brought about by growing strategic overlaps between the US and Indian businesses, which were affecting the company's founders and limited partners (LPs). According to a BusinessToday report, those overlaps happened as a result of Sequoia India's investment strategy changing to concentrate more on international software opportunities. By 2023, 50–55% of all investments would be of this type, up from just 10% in 2018. As per the report, this indicates that more than half of Sequoia India's portfolio over the past four years has a global footprint, mainly in the US, which would put its parent fund's portfolio in competition.

How did founders and investors react to the rebranding?

The Sequoia rebranding has been hailed by Indian innovators and investors, with some referring to it as "another step in India's emergence."

Others noted that this demonstrates how well regarded Indian investment managers are internationally. Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal tweeted:

Founder and investor Rajesh Sawhney commented on rebranding by saying, "This is not just a name change, but a whole new paradigm in which global fund franchises will evolve into. As far as India is concerned, nothing better than a massive new Indian fund with USD 9 billion AUM and a great future to invest in and from India and SouthEast Asia."

However, venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya believed that given India's economic possibilities, the fund's pullout from India was a mistake.

"India has a six percent annual growth rate. Literally, it resembles China in 2008–2009. Why you allowed them to depart is beyond me. On the 132nd episode of the All-In podcast, he remarked, "I think that you would want to attach them to yourself because it makes the US business appear better."

"Perhaps Roelof Botha (Partner at Sequoia) believed that the Sequoia India team at the moment is simply not very good, so we should just cut it out and reconsider it later. They likely have a certain number of years of non-compete before they can re-enter the market with an entirely new crew, which may be simpler," he added.

Sujata Sangwan

Former Sr. Correspondent

Sujata is an engineering graduate and has done her Post Graduation in Human Resource Management. She has a deep interest in startups, venture capitalists & technology. 
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