Sequoia’s Moritz: Instacart is not Webvan 2.0

July 23, 2013, 3:31 AM UTC


FORTUNE — Sequoia Capital partner Mike Moritz generated some Silicon Valley buzz recently by leading an $8.5 million investment in grocery delivery startup Instacart. Not only because it was Moritz’s first new board seat in more than a year, but also because the company seems vaguely reminiscent of Webvan — one of Moritz’s few major missteps during the dotcom era.

Moritz was asked about the Webvan comparison today during a keynote interview at Fortune BrainstormTech in Aspen. His reply:

“Instacart is a crowdsourced model for the home delivery of groceries, and it offers a way to escape the enormous capital infrastructure burden that was so tricky and complicated about Webvan. Weebvan was a company that, in computer parlance, was trying to design the underlying computer architecture, the operating system and a whole bunch of apps on top of it. Think of Instacart in a similar manner to a company like Uber where you have a lot of independent contractors who, instead of driving cars, will attend to your grocery shopping needs.”

When pressed on the apparent lack of barriers to entry, Moritz shot back that companies like Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN) also didn’t have barriers to entry in their early days.

Moritz also was asked for his views on Bitcoin, given his history of payment investments like PayPal. His sentiment was circumspect: “There are a whole variety of reasons why I think it’s going to be extremely difficult for Bitcoin to get close to the mainstream.  So I have great skepticism. But there also is great allure associated with making payments easier and removing a lot of the barriers that exist.”

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