Twitter is often the toast of social networking for its broad reach, but LinkedIn plays perhaps a bigger role among venture capitalists, a new study has found. Ninety-five percent of the Forbes Midas List of the top 100 VCs has a presence on LinkedIn, but only 64 are on Twitter – and three of those users have never tweeted.
The study from the Zeno Group offers a unique perspective on venture’s approach to social networking and a useful roadmap for entrepreneurs trying to keep tabs on partners. It shows that about a third of the people followed by the Midas List members most Twitter connected are other VCs, while 29% are entrepreneurs.
It also shows that VCs actively follow startups in the news. More than three quarters of VCs have contacted a startup after reading about it, the study found.
The most followed media names by members of the Forbes Midas List on Twitter are Kara Swisher of AllThingsD; Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal; Dan Primack of Fortune’s Term Sheet; Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily; and Adam Lashinsky of Fortune.
VCs to Twitter: We’re Just Not That into You, But Major Media Brands and LinkedIn Do Matter
Zeno Group Study Reveals the Influencers within the VC Ecosystem
REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. (July 31, 2013) –The billion-plus dollars venture capitalists have poured into
Twitter have pushed the company’s valuation north of $10 billion, but when it comes to discovering what
the next big thing might be, VCs tend to look to LinkedIn instead.
That was just one of the key findings of a new study by Zeno Group, the award-winning, mid-size global
public relations firm, which also revealed that top-tier media brands and journalists can be exceptionally
influential with venture capitalists. The amount of news coverage a start-up receives can have a direct
effect on funding. For venture capitalists, when it comes to funds, size matters; for startups, coverage
“One of the top requests we get from startups is for help in generating visibility in the media that venture
capitalists consume in order to help raise the next round of investment,” said Todd Irwin, managing
director of Zeno’s technology practice. “Rapid changes in social networking, the tech media and even the
venture industry itself prompted us to take a closer look at the influencers and media who reach venture
Zeno’s study offers a roadmap for how startups can reach this exclusive group of venture investors, but
there aren’t any shortcuts. The findings reinforce the importance of investing time and resources into
developing a brand’s story and in building relationships. And efforts can be bolstered by senior
executives who foster direct relationships with venture capitalists on social networks and at live events. A
white paper with survey results can be downloaded here: (link to Zeno blog and SlideShare pending
LinkedIn Trumps Twitter Online; In-Person Networking Remains Key
Respondents to the Zeno survey rank industry conferences as the most important channel to staying
connected to the VC ecosystem, followed by LinkedIn and then Twitter. Facebook, AngelList and Quora
ranked significantly lower.
95 percent of the Forbes Midas List – the magazine’s annual ranking of its Top 100 VCs – have a
presence on LinkedIn, where they are well-engaged
But only 64 of the Forbes Midas List are on Twitter, and three of those users have never Tweeted
On LinkedIn, the Forbes Midas List follow a median of three companies, two influencers and two
newsfeeds and participate in three groups
Twitter Following Habits Reveal Venture Ecosystem
Forbes Midas List VCs follow 375 other Twitter users on average. The median, or mid-point, is 180
handles they are following. An outlier like Jim Breyer of Accel Partners follows 3,363 other users and
happens to top the 2013 Midas List.
“Hyper-connected” Twitter users – those followed by 10 or more of the Forbes Midas List – offer a
window into the exclusive venture capital network:
34% are other venture partners, reflecting the collaborative nature of venture capital where
investing alongside other firms is the norm
29% are entrepreneurs, CEOs and other technology executives, but portfolio companies
themselves are not prominent, with just two companies making the most-followed list
Nearly 20% are media: 11% of the most-followed users are journalists and another 8% are media
Just 9% of this group are women; what’s more, most of these women are Silicon Valley
household names, such as Kara Swisher, Sarah Lacy and Sheryl Sandberg
Media Coverage Influences Funding
Zeno’s survey confirms that media coverage does influence venture capitalists’ investment decisions.
More than three quarters of VCs have contacted a startup after reading about it in the news
30% of surveyed VCs have invested in a startup that they discovered through a news story
Big Media Brands Matter
Top-tier traditional and tech media outlets in Silicon Valley are the top news sources for venture
capitalists. Nineteen percent of Twitter handles followed by top VCs are journalists and media. The most-
followed media names by the Forbes Midas List VCs on Twitter are:
Kara Swisher, AllThingsD – 69%
Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal/AllThingsD – 61%
Dan Primack, Fortune Term Sheet – 50%
Sarah Lacy, PandoDaily – 39%
Adam Lashinsky, Fortune – 38%
The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones), The New York Times and TechCrunch command nearly 50
percent of the media presence on Twitter among the Forbes Midas List, when grouping the outlet and
journalist handles by publisher.
About the Study
Zeno Group examined the social media presence and engagement of the 2013 Forbes Midas List of 100
top venture capitalists on Twitter and LinkedIn. Zeno Group created a proprietary tool to collect and
analyze the Twitter users that are followed by the Forbes Midas List VCs. Data was collected from June
24 – July 1, 2013; one Midas List member has a private Twitter account, so was excluded from this
analysis. LinkedIn connections and engagement statistics were collected from July 10 – 11, 2013. Zeno
Group also enlisted third-party research firm Edelman Berland, a global research firm, to conduct an
online survey of U.S. venture capitalists identified by Dow Jones VentureSource. The survey was fielded
from June 19 – July 12, 2013; the margin of error is plus or minus 15.8% in 95 out of 100 cases. The
survey provides directional insights into venture capitalists’ networking and media behavior.
About Zeno Group
Believers in the fearless pursuit of the unexpected, the award-winning Zeno Group operates as one firm
across fourteen offices in New York, Chicago, Santa Monica, Dallas, Silicon Valley, Toronto, London,
Beijing, Delhi, Jakarta, Singapore, and three satellite offices in Amsterdam, Sao Paolo and Ho Chi
Minh. Zeno is the unprecedented 2011, 2012 and 2013 winner of the PR Week US Mid-Size Agency of
the Year, 2011 Holmes Report US Creative Agency of the Year and 2013 Holmes Report Consumer
Agency of the Year. The firm’s practice areas include consumer, health, technology and corporate, all
supported by planning, digital engagement and media. Clients include: AstraZeneca, Bacardi, Bausch &
Lomb, Brocade, Emirates, Facebook, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Kia Motors America, McAfee,
Micron Technology, Inc., Office Depot, Oak Investment Partners, Pizza Hut, Sears and Seattle’s Best
Coffee. Zeno Group is a member of the Daniel J Edelman Company. Please visit us at Zenogroup.com,
like us on Facebook or follow us @zenogroup.