Peter C. Wendell


Peter C. Wendell

Lecturer in Strategic Management


Peter C. Wendell is the founder and a managing director of Sierra Ventures, a Silicon Valley technology-oriented venture capital firm that has invested more than $2 billion over the past 35 years in a wide variety of successful technology companies. Wendell teaches Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital, a popular course at Stanford Graduate School of Business, with Scott Kupor, the managing partner of Andreessen Horowitz; Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO; and Raymond Nasr, communications coach. Wendell has held a faculty appointment at Stanford since 1991 and has taught more than 2,000 Stanford MBA students. Wendell has been recognized by Forbes magazine as one of the 100 best technology venture investors in the United States and named one of the 15 venture capitalists on Upside magazine’s “Elite 100” list of influential U.S. leaders in technology, finance, and business.

In addition to his activities at Sierra, Wendell has a variety of other professional responsibilities. He currently serves on the board of directors of Merck & Co., Inc (MRK-NYSE) where he served a four-year term chairing the board’s audit committee and currently serves on the compensation and research committees. During his career he has served as a member of the corporate board of directors of more than 25 companies, including ten U.S. public companies. Wendell also currently serves as a senior advisor, equity owner, and as a member of the board of directors of Westbridge Capital, a 20-year old Bangalore-based investment firm currently managing approximately $5 billion invested primarily in Indian public and late-stage private companies. He also serves as the senior advisor to the family office entities of Google former CEO Eric Schmidt, and functions in a similar capacity for Intuit founder Scott Cook and for a multi-generational East Coast family. Wendell serves on the board of managers of Living Spaces Furniture, a company founded by two of his Stanford students which is now one of the largest online and in-store furniture retailers in California.

During Wendell’s 25-year active investing period at Sierra Ventures, he helped originate and manage multiple Sierra startup and early-stage investments that ultimately attained multibillion-dollar public market values including Intuit (INTU-NASD), Teradata (TDC-NYSE), Amerigroup (AGP-NYSE; now owned by Anthem), and On Assignment (ASGN-NYSE). Other multibillion-dollar companies in which Sierra Ventures was an early investor and held large equity positions include Intuitive Surgical (ISRG-NASD), Make My Trip (MMYT-NASD), and Theravance (TBPH-NASD). Sierra is currently investing from Sierra Ventures XII and over the past three decades has created a broad network of successful entrepreneurs, Global 1,000 CXOs, operational executives, and deep domain experts, providing a supportive platform for entrepreneurs around the world.

Prior to founding the first Sierra fund in 1982, Wendell was employed by IBM for ten years in a variety of sales and management positions. During an educational leave from IBM, Wendell attended Harvard Business School where he received an MBA with distinction. During this time, he also worked for McKinsey & Company management consultants. Wendell holds a bachelor of arts degree, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He has received awards from both Harvard and Princeton for his leadership and service on their behalf.

Wendell recently completed two terms totalling 18 years as a charter trustee of Princeton University serving as one of the three officers of Princeton’s board of trustees during both terms. He has also completed a ten-year term as a member of the board of directors of the Princeton University Investment Company (Princo), the organization responsible for Princeton’s endowment. During the six years Wendell chaired the Princo board, Princo’s professional staff grew the university’s endowment from $8 billion to over $16 billion. He has also served as a longtime trustee of ARTstor, a Mellon Foundation initiative chaired by Harvard’s former president Neil Rudenstine.

Wendell has served as an officer and member of the board of directors of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists, as a member of the venture capital committee of Stanford University’s Athletic Investment Endowment (DAPER board), as a member of the visiting committee at Harvard Business School, as a director of San Francisco’s Exploratorium, and on the board of St. Luke’s Parish School in San Francisco. He has received the National Venture Capital Association’s American Spirit Award for applying his business skills in a manner that has created outstanding contributions to society. He enjoys jogging, squash, and lacrosse and has completed the 26-mile New York City marathon. Wendell and his wife Lynn reside in San Francisco and have six children.

Academic Degrees

  • MBA, Harvard University, 1976
  • AB, Princeton University, 1972

Academic Appointments

  • MBA Class of 1973 Lecturer, Stanford GSB, 2014–15

Stanford Case Studies

Stanford GSB Affiliations