Sequoia Capital managing partner Doug Leone is advising President Trump on how to restart American businesses during the coronavirus-led economic shutdown

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Sequoia Capital managing partner Doug Leone is advising President Trump on how to restart American businesses during the coronavirus-led economic shutdown

Doug Leone, CEO of Sequoia Capital

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Doug Leone, CEO of Sequoia Capital

One of Silicon Valley's biggest venture investors, at one of its most storied venture firms, has teamed up with the Trump Administration to help in efforts to restart the American economy.

Sequoia Capital managing partner Doug Leone is participating as part of President Trump's task force to "reopen" the United States economy in the coming weeks as businesses publicly struggle with statewide shelter-in-place orders. During his daily press briefing Tuesday, Trump said Sequoia was among the companies advising him on strategies to restart the economy by the end of April, and a list released by the White House later confirmed Leone's participation.

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Leone has publicly bucked a widespread trend among Silicon Valley's upper echelon - although some have privately expressed support for Trump, few have been willing to do so publicly within the Democratic stronghold where they reside. Peter Thiel, who founded Los Angeles-based VC firm Founders Fund and controversial data analytics company Palantir, is still Trump's most visible supporter among tech investors, but a Recode report from Teddy Schleifer in September outlined a more nuanced picture of the President's private supporters. Recode reported that Leone and his wife donated $100,000 to Trump's reelection campaign.

Leone, a registered Republican, is the only venture investor publicly identified on the list of participating financial services advisors on the task force, which includes investment banking heavyweights Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, Paul Singer of Elliott Management, and Chuck Schwab of Charles Schwab.

Sequoia Capital did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment. The notoriously image-conscious VC firm wrote a widely-cited blog post on March 5 calling the novel coronavirus "the black swan of 2020." The post, addressed to founders and CEOs of companies, outlined the business risks the emerging novel coronavirus posed to the startup and larger business communities, and cautioned startups to cut costs and batten down the hatches in preparation for a sustained economic downturn. It was one of the earliest public warnings from a Silicon Valley VC, although the firm had already changed its investment strategy in China months before as the virus swept through Wuhan, and many Chinese cities went on lockdown.

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"Having weathered every business downturn for nearly fifty years, we've learned an important lesson - nobody ever regrets making fast and decisive adjustments to changing circumstances," the Sequia post read. "In downturns, revenue and cash levels always fall faster than expenses. In some ways, business mirrors biology. As Darwin surmised, those who survive 'are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.'"

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