Each year, Forbes ranks the top 100 venture capitalists. The “Midas List” — as the ranking is called — attempts to identify those investors who are building the most valuable technology and life science companies.
It is easy to pick apart any list, especially one related to the nebulous world of venture capital. And this year is no different, with industry watchers such as Fortune’s Dan Primack and GigaOm’s Om Malik disputing some of the choices. Others correctly point out that the list is dominated this year by the lucky few invested in Facebook and Twitter.
I’ve actually called BS on the list in the past myself for forgetting some notable Seattle venture capitalists. And this year, it’s sad to report that not one investor from a Seattle venture capital firm made the top 100. Even Madrona Venture Group’s Matt McIlwain — who ranked 75th last year and 57th in 2009 — fell off the list.
Unfortunately, I can’t really fault Forbes for giving Seattle VCs a big goose egg this year. And it’s not because of a lack of great deals.
It just so happens that some of the top deals involving Seattle area companies in the past 12 months — PopCap’s sale to EA for up to $1.3 billion; Zillow’s skyrocketing IPO; and Double Down Interactive’s sale to IGT for up to $500 million — were not funded by Seattle VCs.
Now, there are multiple reasons for that, from the need for big institutional money in the case of PopCap (Meritech Capital Partners) to the personal connections of Zillow’s Rich Barton to Benchmark Capital. But I’d still argue for the venture capital community to thrive, we’ll need to see Seattle VCs participating in the next blockbusters, making sure they don’t miss a PopCap or a Zillow. (And to the editor’s of Forbes, I would say mentioning those huge standout Seattle successes would be worthwhile as “Big Deals”).
There are certainly some up-and-comers to watch, many of which will be on display at GeekWire’s Seattle 2.0 Startup Awards tonight. Companies such as Apptio, Zulily, Opscode, Z2Live and Redfin, which have backing from Seattle VCs.
But for now, the Seattle venture capital community will just have to wait a bit longer before they start polishing their gold bars.
Here’s a look at the top 10, and click on the image for the full list.