The great thing – and the bad thing – about the Internet is that we have all sorts of newfangled tools to measure things. But, as Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.”
Which brings us to the latest list making the rounds: the “30 Most Respected Venture Capitalists,” which was created by Mark Fidelman of the blog SeekOmega.com and ran on Business Insider.
Fidelman says he created the list “using state of the art sentiment analysis technology from Lithium (formerly Scout labs), confidential reviews from entrepreneurs on TheFunded.com, and four surveys that I issued across four different social platforms. I also looked for mentions of individual VC’s on Quora to gain additional insight.”
What I cannot fathom is how someone can put together a list of the “most respected” VCs without looking at their successes and/or failures as investors.
The simple fact is we don’t respect losers. We respect winners. Falling back on the old sports analogy, do we respect baseball, football or basketball teams that have never won championships? We may like (even love) losing teams (Cubs, anyone?), but we certainly don’t respect them more than the teams that have actually won championships.
If I’m an entrepreneur, do I want to have the support of VCs with a long record of backing successful startups or VCs without much of a track record but who blog and tweet like crazy and were careful not to piss off members of The Funded?
A list of respected VCs should correlate very closely with a list of VCs who have had the most success. The Midas List is no longer around, so we can’t compare Fidelman’s list to it. But, strictly from an anecdotal standpoint, I can think of a host of very successful VCs and/or angel investors who didn’t make the cut. And that brings Fidelman’s whole list into question.
(Update: I heard from Nicole Perlroth, deputy editor of Forbes, and she tells me that the magazine is bringing back the Midas List this April. Forbes didn’t produce the list last year. Perlroth has been working on the project for the past few months and says, “We already have a good idea of who falls where and I think the results will come as a shock to many.” Can’t wait to see what Forbes comes up with.)
Off the top of my head, here are 10 successful investors that didn’t make it onto the top 30, in no particular order, along with some of their hits:
Danny Rimer of Index Ventures (Skype, Playfish, Last.fm, Lovefilm, MySQL).
Aydin Senkut, angel investor (Mint, Mixer Labs, Mochi Media, Powerset).
Peter Thiel of the Founders Fund (Facebook, LinkedIn, Yelp, Powerset)
Ron Conway, angel investor (Google, Paypal, Good Technology, Opsware, Foursquare, Twitter).
Peter Fenton of Benchmark Capital (FriendFeed, JBoss, SpringSource, Wily Technology).
Kevin Efrusy of Accel Partners (Facebook, Xensource, SpringSource, BBN Technologies). (Heck, Accel’s Jim Breyer sits on Facebook’s board and has a lengthy list of hits himself, including Marvel Entertainment, RedBack Networks and Hyperion Solutions.)
Ram Shriram of Sherpalo Ventures (Google, Mint, Plaxo, Tellme).
Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners (Facebook, Flickr, Last.fm, IronPort, Zynga). (We’re also told in Venture Capital Journal’s November cover story that Hoffman is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet or do business with.)
Naval Ravikant, angel investor (Twitter, FourSquare, Mixer Labs, Jambool, DocVerse).
Deepak Kamra of Canaan Partners (DoubleClick, Match.com, Acme Packet, SuccessFactors).
I should note that both Fenton and Conway were on Fidelman’s “narrowly missed” list, but how the heck did they not make it onto the top 30 list?
I’m quite certain there are many more who belong on the top 30, but who were not listed. Who would you add?