Who has the Midas touch in US venture capital?
In venture capital the sky appears to be the limit. Those who reach for the sky and manage to find it end up on the Forbes Midas List, a hot list of the best tech dealmakers in venture capital. You can see the full 2015 Midas List at the end of this article. Here though we’ll focus on the best of the best – the top 3 – and the key investments that got them there.
Number One: Jim Goetz, Partner, Sequoia Capital (50, married with 3 kids)
Jim Goetz was the sole investor in a modest, up and coming outfit called WhatsApp. Goetz seemed to see something no one else did – an app company standing out country after country without any advertising…and growing fast. They were doing things differently to everyone else. They weren’t throwing bundles of cash into getting noticed and completely forgetting about actually engaging anyone. Their sole focus was creating a product that worked for its users. Goetz convinced Sequoia to invest $60 million in WhatsApp over three rounds, a hefty sum that was soon made to look extremely modest. Facebook bought WhatsApp for a staggering $22 billion rocketing Jim Goetz to the top of the Midas List with more than $3 billion worth of Facebook stock. His focus remains fixed on enterprises that are passionate and mission-based.
Number Two: Peter Fenton, Partner, Benchmark (43, married with 2 kids)
Peter Fenton, one of five partners, describes Benchmark’s approach to venture capital as ‘artisanal,’ implying that they’re more traditional bricklayers than fancy speculators. Whatever their approach Peter’s expertise has spanned Ebay and Uber and he now sits on the board of Twitter. Notably he invested in Twitter in its infancy around 2009, a rare growth phase for the company. His investments include Hortonworks and new Relic, both of which went public on the same day! Also helping to shoot him to number two were successes with Zendesk and Yelp.
Chris Sacca, Founder, Lowercase Capital (40, married with 2 kids)
How did former Google exec Chris Sacca break into the Top Ten for the first time? Well, here’s his impressive early bet list: Twitter, Uber, Stripe, Twilio, Docker, Lookout and Automatic. It also helped that Lowercase Capital was one of the first to throw money at Instagram, subsequently bought by Facebook for $736 million. Of his investment approach, Sacca says, “I ask founders two things – can I affect your outcome, and will I be proud to say I backed you?”
The Forbes Midas List
First published by Victoria Biggs on LinkedIn on 20/04/16