A List of The Top 15 VC Firms

WHMD's picture
Rank: Baboon | 157

As compiled by Professor Andrew Metrick, author of "Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation," using his "own arbitrary and subjective criteria."

This list is as of 2006/2007, so I'm sure things have changed, although the very top few firms are probably still the same.

What additions/deletions would you make?

A Firms - The Top 6 in the World
Accel Partners
Benchmark Capital
Charles River Ventures
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Matrix Partners
Sequoia Capital

B Firms - The Next 9
Alta Partners
Apax Ventures
Austin Ventures
Battery Ventures
Draper Fisher Jurvetson
New Enterprise Associates
Sevin Rosen
Summit Partners
Technology Crossover Ventures

Region: 
United States - South

Comments (37)

Sep 22, 2009

Also from Metrick's book, for what it's worth, to "complete" your list above. I think a few of these could maybe displace a few from above?

Honorable Mention
Columbia Capital
InterWest Partners
Lightspeed Venture Partners
Mayfield Fund
Menlo Ventures
Polaris Venture Partners
Sierra Ventures
TL Ventures
US Venture Partners
VantagePoint Ventures

Honorable mention, but not enough info about performance or carried interest
Bessemer Venture Partners
Greylock Partners
Venrock Associates

Sep 22, 2009

Agree with a lot of these. A few comments:

I heard NEA has had some problems as of late - raised a huge fund that exceeded their ability to deploy it effectively, and as a results their returns have been terrible.

Never heard of Sevin Rosen...and found this about them returning capital: http://venturebeat.com/2006/10/07/venture-shocker-...
I also think Summit and TCV arguably could be moved off this list, not because they're not great firms, but because they have really moved up market more into growth equity. Austin Ventures as well to a degree, Polaris and Battery also.

I would vote DFJ up into the "A" bucket. Bessemer, Greylock and Venrock are also all very impressive, would probably move them up the list.

Surprised Union Square Ventures didn't make the cut.

All very impressive firms though, a good list.

Sep 22, 2009
captk:

Agree with a lot of these. A few comments:

I heard NEA has had some problems as of late - raised a huge fund that exceeded their ability to deploy it effectively, and as a results their returns have been terrible.

Never heard of Sevin Rosen...and found this about them returning capital: http://venturebeat.com/2006/10/07/venture-shocker-...
I also think Summit and TCV arguably could be moved off this list, not because they're not great firms, but because they have really moved up market more into growth equity. Austin Ventures as well to a degree, Polaris and Battery also.

I would vote DFJ up into the "A" bucket. Bessemer, Greylock and Venrock are also all very impressive, would probably move them up the list.

Surprised Union Square Ventures didn't make the cut.

All very impressive firms though, a good list.

  • Capt K

Great insight, Capt K. What about Or a firm like Highland Capital Partners? Or newer firms, such as Bain Capital Ventures (founded in 2001)? How are their reputations / performance?

As an aside, here's a TechCrunch post on the "Top 100 Networked VCs" discussing the correlation between contacts and performance: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/27/the-top-100-n...

Sep 22, 2009

This sort of prestige shit doesn't quite work in VC. As captk said, Union Square isn't on the list and it's arguably the best VC shop in NYC.

The industry is fundamentally different from IBD or PE, no matter how badly insecure college juniors may want to rank them. Size, compensation and history are all not as relevant as they may be in other industries.

Sep 22, 2009
ideating:

This sort of prestige shit doesn't quite work in VC. As captk said, Union Square isn't on the list and it's arguably the best VC shop in NYC.

The industry is fundamentally different from IBD or PE, no matter how badly insecure college juniors may want to rank them. Size, compensation and history are all not as relevant as they may be in other industries.

I'd strongly disagree with this statement, even though I admittedly have no first-hand experience in the industry. However, having read read the academic paper mentioned in the TechCrunch post above (Hochberg, Ljungqvist, and Lu), I think that the evidence points to exactly the opposite.

"Prestige" or "reputation" or "contacts" or "networks" or "relationships" or "connections" or whatever you want to call it may be in fact more important in VC than in the above industries, even PE. As the authors conclude:

"Controlling for known determinants of VC investment performance, we find that VC funds whose parent firms enjoy more influential network positions realize significantly better performance, as measured by the proportion of portfolio investments that are successfully exited through an IPO or a sale to another company. Similarly, the portfolio companies of better-networked VC firms are significantly more likely to survive to subsequent rounds of financing and to eventual exit. The magnitude of these effects is economically large, and is robust to a wide range of specifications."

And yes, while success is not measured by IRR but by % of successful exits, Gompers and Lerner, among others, indicate the validity of viewing a successful exit as a final signal of an investment's success.

Finally, as the OP mentioned, the list above was compiled by a former Wharton professor, now at Yale SOM, not an insecure college junior. And also, this type of analysis would not only be taken by prospective future VC analyst/associates, but also LPs. After all, Metrick's initial list is calculated with the primary quantitative criteria of performance numbers and carried interest, not "prestige," whatever that may mean.

Sep 23, 2009
cdkram:
ideating:

This sort of prestige shit doesn't quite work in VC. As captk said, Union Square isn't on the list and it's arguably the best VC shop in NYC.

The industry is fundamentally different from IBD or PE, no matter how badly insecure college juniors may want to rank them. Size, compensation and history are all not as relevant as they may be in other industries.

I'd strongly disagree with this statement, even though I admittedly have no first-hand experience in the industry. However, having read read the academic paper mentioned in the TechCrunch post above (Hochberg, Ljungqvist, and Lu), I think that the evidence points to exactly the opposite.

"Prestige" or "reputation" or "contacts" or "networks" or "relationships" or "connections" or whatever you want to call it may be in fact more important in VC than in the above industries, even PE. As the authors conclude:

"Controlling for known determinants of VC investment performance, we find that VC funds whose parent firms enjoy more influential network positions realize significantly better performance, as measured by the proportion of portfolio investments that are successfully exited through an IPO or a sale to another company. Similarly, the portfolio companies of better-networked VC firms are significantly more likely to survive to subsequent rounds of financing and to eventual exit. The magnitude of these effects is economically large, and is robust to a wide range of specifications."

And yes, while success is not measured by IRR but by % of successful exits, Gompers and Lerner, among others, indicate the validity of viewing a successful exit as a final signal of an investment's success.

Finally, as the OP mentioned, the list above was compiled by a former Wharton professor, now at Yale SOM, not an insecure college junior. And also, this type of analysis would not only be taken by prospective future VC analyst/associates, but also LPs. After all, Metrick's initial list is calculated with the primary quantitative criteria of performance numbers and carried interest, not "prestige," whatever that may mean.

Ugh - shouldn't have replied to this thread...

Look, that laundry list of things you mentioned are all critical; however they are not going to be determined by the methodology that professor is using. If you surveyed 25 serial entrepeneurs/VCs/FoFs, I think that list would look different from what our esteemed professor has up.

Sep 23, 2009

Fair enough. It sounds like this thread was written to instigate discussion, so your contribution is great. But generalizations like "This sort of prestige shit doesn't quite work in VC" don't quite help.

Plus, this is a specific data set from back in 2006. Of course things will have changed by now, especially given the craziness of the economy.

But I do stand by what I said: I doubt that 1) fund returns and 2) carried interest are far from the top of LPs minds and I doubt that reputation is far from the top of entrepreneurs' minds, though of course each person one surveys will have a different list.

Oct 8, 2009

Here is the list of the "Busiest" VCs of 2009.

1. New Enterprise Associates

Deals this year: 36
3 recent deals: Serious Materials, Vuclip, Chelsio Communications

2. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Deals this year: 35
3 recent deals: Pacific Bioscience, Booyah, Juvaris BioTherapeutics

3. Polaris Venture Partners

Deals this year: 31
3 recent deals: Adimab, Turbine, Cerulean Pharma

4. Draper Fisher Jurvetson

Deals this year: 27
3 recent deals: TargetCast Networks, iSocket, Myshape

5 (tied). Sequoia Capital

Deals this year: 26
3 recent deals: Achates Power, Mobile Iron, Ruckus Wireless

5 (tied). U.S. Venture Partners

Deals this year: 26
3 recent deals: Factery, DFX Battery, Blekko

7. Canaan Partners

Deals this year: 25
3 recent deals: Liquidia, Chimerix, Relievant Medsystems

8 (tied). Highland Capital Partners

Deals this year: 24
3 recent deals: Zoove, InXpo, Mix1 Beverage

8 (tied). Venrock Associates

Deals this year: 24
3 recent deals: Xconnect, Durect Corp., Constellation Pharma

10. First Round Capital

Deals this year: 22
3 recent deals: Continuity Engine, GumGum, DNAnexus

Oct 8, 2009

TCV is not VC

Oct 8, 2009
tubs:

TCV is not VC

Sure they are. They do VC, growth equity, and buyout. They even call themselves a "leading private equity and venture capital firm focused on growth technology companies," for crying out loud.

Oct 8, 2009
qwertykeyboard:
tubs:

TCV is not VC

Sure they are. They do VC, growth equity, and buyout. They even call themselves a "leading private equity and venture capital firm focused on growth technology companies," for crying out loud.

they put vc on their website to get looks at early opps - ones they would never actually invest in. if your min check size is 20mm (which is also not true - more like 40mm) that pretty much excludes you from being a VC. if TCV is a VC then so is TA, Vector Capital, Lee Equity, etc. The street came up with "growth equity" to differentiate "later stage VC" from VC. But for the sake of the comparison above, i would not include TCV in the bucket.

I would argue that their check size range, fund size of $3bn, and appetite for being second institutional money in excludes them from being a VC.

name a deal they've done in the last 2 years that would be categorized as "venture-backed".

Oct 8, 2009

Thanks, tubs. This is 2009 YTD, I assume? And where did you get this information from, by the way?

Oct 8, 2009

PEHUB - i recommend you subscribe. email you on weekly deal flow, job opps, etc.

Oct 8, 2009

^^ All true enough. Their mix now is definitely away from "venture" deals now, but they did do a Series A for Tiny prints and a Series E for HomeAway, both in 2000. But hey, the line's pretty blurry these days.

Oct 9, 2009
qwertykeyboard:

^^ All true enough. Their mix now is definitely away from "venture" deals now, but they did do a Series A for Tiny prints and a Series E for HomeAway, both in 2000. But hey, the line's pretty blurry these days.

Really, you're reaching back almost 10 years? And trying to count a series E as VC? Sorry qwerty, but there so no way TCV could be classified as VC. They're squarely growth equity along with TA, Spectrum, NEA, Oak, etc.

Oct 9, 2009
captk:
qwertykeyboard:

^^ All true enough. Their mix now is definitely away from "venture" deals now, but they did do a Series A for Tiny prints and a Series E for HomeAway, both in 2000. But hey, the line's pretty blurry these days.

Really, you're reaching back almost 10 years? And trying to count a series E as VC? Sorry qwerty, but there so no way TCV could be classified as VC. They're squarely growth equity along with TA, Spectrum, NEA, Oak, etc.

  • Capt K

btw - did you guys see NEA's deal with SecondMarket? We tried hard to get into that asset (just short of showing up with check books in our pocket). SecondMarket is definitely a firm to watch closely.

Oct 9, 2009
captk:
qwertykeyboard:

^^ All true enough. Their mix now is definitely away from "venture" deals now, but they did do a Series A for Tiny prints and a Series E for HomeAway, both in 2000. But hey, the line's pretty blurry these days.

Really, you're reaching back almost 10 years? And trying to count a series E as VC? Sorry qwerty, but there so no way TCV could be classified as VC. They're squarely growth equity along with TA, Spectrum, NEA, Oak, etc.

  • Capt K

Whoops. That should say 2008. Both Tiny Pints and HomeAway were 2008 investments.

And once again, we're going into semantics. NEA made 20+ investments from seed to Series F in 2009. the majority of which is Series B and C, which I feel still very much qualifies as VC. Sure, the Series F may be considered more "growth equity," but to call NEA a growth equity firm is going too far, I think.

Oct 9, 2009

Any thoughts about them?

Oct 9, 2009
Imperial Financier:

Any thoughts about them?

Insight is a great firm, and they've been crushing it lately (several big exits). They're also creeping up that ladder toward growth equity as well though.

Oct 9, 2009
captk:
Imperial Financier:

Any thoughts about them?

Insight is a great firm, and they've been crushing it lately (several big exits). They're also creeping up that ladder toward growth equity as well though.

  • Capt K

Second that. Insight's fund will do well vis a vis other venture funds. Know some folks there that can speak to fund performance.

Oct 11, 2009

Why is there so much sourcing at the junior level at TA, Summit if they are primarily growth equity?

Seems like the pool is sufficiently narrow at that point with precedent rounds to mitigate some of that

Oct 12, 2009
2007Analyst:

Why is there so much sourcing at the junior level at TA, Summit if they are primarily growth equity?

Seems like the pool is sufficiently narrow at that point with precedent rounds to mitigate some of that

The "holy grail" of this space, so to speak, is proprietary deal flow, as some see it. By finding diamonds in the rough that nobody else sees, you give yourself a competitive advantage. The sourcing at the jr. level builds up huge proprietary databases that the firm is then able to leverage.

Oct 12, 2009
WHMD:
2007Analyst:

Why is there so much sourcing at the junior level at TA, Summit if they are primarily growth equity?

Seems like the pool is sufficiently narrow at that point with precedent rounds to mitigate some of that

The "holy grail" of this space, so to speak, is proprietary deal flow, as some see it. By finding diamonds in the rough that nobody else sees, you give yourself a competitive advantage. The sourcing at the jr. level builds up huge proprietary databases that the firm is then able to leverage.

I interned at a couple of start ups in school, most of those companies cant stand getting cold calls from those type of firms. Summit has a <a href="http:/http://www.thefunded.com"/funds/item/1560">HORRIBLE rep with the startup community (granted they are growth). First Round Capital had money in one of the start ups I was helping. I got to meet Josh Kopleman, great guy and def had his finger on the pulse of what was going on in tech world. Additionally (if I ever get there) I feel like that would be the best part of being a VC: being involved with your companies growth and plugging into the community and finding investments your passionate about. If your just going to have associates do the leg work, why don't you just have a PE fund instead? In the words of a founder "Thanks for the call Elodie (analyst/cold caller), so tell me what the fuck you know about cloud computing? And no your not going to fish our company info", a little rude I thought but I think the point remains.

"Cowards die a thousand deaths, but the brave only one,"
Bill Shakespeare

Oct 12, 2009

Accel, Intel, IDG, Sequoia... dude, the list is, like. A hundred names long. What are you looking for?

Oct 12, 2009

Generally, in terms of "reputation":
Accel, Sequoia, Greylock, and Benchmark are regarded as the top brands right now. Plenty of other firms too though... Andreessen Horowitz is hot, Redpoint, of course KPCB (though the performance of their last several funds has certainly knocked them down a notch). There are a lot of smaller funds ($100-$300M range) that are up and coming and I can quickly jot down a list of those if you are interested.

Oct 12, 2009

Rho Ventures is a big one, but yes there are hundreds, if not a thousand.

Oct 12, 2009

It depends how you define top tier...

...most people just see which companies they've invested in... are they headline names? But this can be misleading, just because they invested in FaceBook, Google and Twitter doesn't mean they are leaders in VC and are generating solid returns. Since much of the VC model is prefictaed on the portfolio, you can't simply look at a few landmark investments and say its a solid firm.

I'd probably focus more on the founder-level people at the firm and the history of the firm itself.

Oct 12, 2009

I really don't think there are 100 top VCs... in terms of early-ish stage focus (with a couple exceptions) on the west coast, the biggest names are Sequoia, Accel, Benchmark, Greylock, KPCB, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint, DFJ, NEA, Institutional Venture Partners... maybe Khosla since they keep popping up everywhere but I dunno. out east, Bessemer, Battery, Union Square, General Catalyst, and probably First Round, Highland, Insight, Matrix (at least formerly). for corporate VCs, Google Ventures and Intel Capital are generally by far the two most active players. I'm probably forgetting a few in general but this is a pretty good list

Oct 12, 2009

The best VC firms have the best VCs - these rankings are pretty much reflected in the Midas List.
http://www.forbes.com/midas/

I'm personally a huge fan of Founders Fund, in addition to the names already listed above (A16Z, Sequoia, NEA, Greylock, etc.)

Oct 12, 2009

Seems like VC is so fragmented (with some very reputable firms that have been mentioned already), so it's hard to come up with a definitive short list like there is with the "Big 4" accounting firms, or the "Big 3" consulting firms, or the BB banks.

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right."

-Warren Buffett

Oct 12, 2009

KP, Sequoia, Accel, Greylock, Benchmark are generally regarded as the Top 5 of the past decade, but it's not as clear cut as MBB in consulting

Oct 12, 2009

.

Oct 12, 2009
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