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Sequoia India appoints Shweta Rajpal Kohli as head of public policy

Venture capital firm Sequoia India hired Shweta Rajpal Kohli as the head of public policy, after the VC firm created a new role focused on public policy, managing director of Sequoia Capital, Shailendra J. Singh, announced on Tuesday. Kohli was earlier the director of government affairs and public policy for India and South Asia at Salesforce. Kohli has also been Uber’s policy head for India and South Asia.

As part of her role, Kohli will work with industry bodies and associations, and will enable dialogue between Sequoia-backed startups and governments in India and South-East Asia. She will also advise Sequoia’s portfolio companies on public policy and regulatory topics.

“I am thrilled to join Sequoia Capital India to lead the public policy function to help drive the policy agenda for the startup ecosystem and venture capital industry. The timing couldn’t be better – with Sequoia’s renewed funding commitment, and the government’s resolve to making startups in India successful. I look forward to partnering with governments to unlock regulatory levers of growth for startup founders, and help create a progressive policy framework that will turn India and Southeast Asia into a hub for building world class, legendary companies,” Kohli said in a statement.

Nikhil adds: “It’s very significant that Sequoia, one of the preeminent venture capital firms in India, has actually hired in a public policy role. They’re the first in India to do so, and I expect that over the next two years, other venture capital firms will see the need for having the views of the startup and venture capital ecosystem being expressed by startups and VC’s themselves, instead of others — including large former startups — speaking for them.

“Startups often are so caught up in staying afloat and rolling out their business, that they don’t give much importance to public policy. Investors too, have typically reacted once policies have impacted them directly: like with Angel tax.

“Hopefully, Kohli will be able to get Sequoia backed businesses to dedicate some management bandwidth towards current distasters-in-waiting, like the reworking of safe harbour in India, the flaws with India’s data protection bill, and the nationalisation of data being seeded with the Indian government approach to non personal data.”

Apart from Kohli, former Star India executive Gayatri Vasudeva has also joined Sequoia India as its chief marketing officer, and former CTO of Gojek, Ajey Gore, joined the VC firm as operating partner.

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