Forbes has published its annual Midas list, looking at the world’s most successful venture capitalists.
The list is a data-driven ranking of the world’s 100 top venture capitalists based on all exits (IPOs or acquisitions) above $200 million and private companies valued at $400 million or more over the last five years.
Forbes and partner TrueBridge assessed an investor’s involvement in each deal and put a premium on newer exits and returns that reflect bigger and bolder bets. Each year, the Midas team reviews submissions across hundreds of partners and dozens of firms.
Unsurprisingly the list was dominated by American and Chinese investors, with Alibaba remaining the top driver of value for Midas List investors following its $25 billion IPO in 2014 – the largest in US history.
Despite a series of setbacks throughout 2017 and continuing into 2018, Uber remains the second biggest value drivers for the Midas List and one of the highest-valued private companies in the world.
Rounding off the top three was ride-hailing platform DiDi Chuxing, which jumped significantly from its 8th ranking last year after closing a fresh $4 billion funding round in December 2017 at a valuation of $56 billion – making it the most valuable startup in the world as of January 2018.
This was reflected by this year’s number one on the Midas list, Neil Shen, head of Sequoia Capital China, who invested in major Chinese players Alibaba and JD.com.
Rounding out the top three was Bill Gurley (one of Uber’s best-known and most controversial venture capital investors), and Jim Goetz who has reigned for the last four years and returns in third this year due to his investment in WhatsApp.
Top 10 venture capitalists
|1||Neil Shen||Sequoia Capital China||Alibaba|
|3||Jim Goetz||Sequoia Capital|
|5||Robert Nelsen||ARCH Venture Partners||Juno therapeutics|
|6||Mary Meeker||Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Partners||Spotify|
|8||J.P. Gan||Qiming Venture Partners||Meitu|
|9||Douglas Leone||Sequoia Capital||ServiceNow|
|10||Brian Singerman||Founders Fund||Stemcentrix|
The South African with the Midas touch
The lone South African on the list is Roelof Botha – highly ranked at number 14.
The former PayPal CFO and partner at Sequoia Capital jumped up 20 spots after making a return on last year’s Midas List.
“Taking an early risk on YouTube, Botha has continued to invest in startups with a ‘clear-eyed vision’ including personal genetic testing company 23andMe and ticketing event platform Eventbrite, as well as MongoDB, which went public in October 2017 and Square, which as performed well on the market since its November 2015 IPO,” said Forbes.
“As a grad student at Stanford, Botha stumbled into the role of entrepreneur when he was running low on cash and decided to join PayPal,” it said.
Botha became chief financial officer at PayPal while earning his MBA at Stanford University. He negotiated PayPal’s sale to eBay for $1.5 billion and then jumped ship to Sequoia Capital where his most notable deal is in credit card processing business, Square.
Forbes noted that the South African’s portfolio also ranges from database companies like MongoDB to the genetic testing company Natera, which went public in 2015.
Botha was also an early backer of YouTube, which Google acquired for $1.65 billion.
Botha has said he ended up at PayPal in part by chance. He came to the US in 1998, right after an emerging markets currency crisis that caused him to lose 40% of his savings overnight. In need of a job, he joined PayPal.