Technology's Top DealmakersThis article is more than 13 years old.
The FORBES Midas list ranks the best dealmakers in tech and life sciences based on the payoffs they have reaped from companies they have taken public or sold in the past five years. Last year 460 venture-backed firms were sold for a total $35 billion, the best year for cash-outs since 2000. The Internet continues to dominate the rankings, thanks to Google's rise and the rich deal for YouTube. Also topping the list are the globe-trotters behind Chinese search engine Baidu; Semiconductor Manufacturing International; Web auctioneer Alibaba; Skype, Luxembourg's Internet phone company; and Naukri, an Indian job site. Health care dealmakers moved up with the help of Merck's acquisitions of GlycoFi and Sirna Therapeutics and with devices that annihilate cancer and blood clots. Expect plenty of blockbusters, and busts, to come: Venture firms raised $25 billion in new money in 2006.
1. Michael Moritz
Top spot again for erudite Brit behind Google, Yahoo, PayPal. Sold Atom Entertainment, an online film and game group, to Viacom last year for $200 million. Former journalist studied history at Oxford, became a VC in the 1980s. More big exits to come: 24/7 call centers; Zappos online shoe stores; Green Dot prepaid debit cards; Eons media and lifestyle online for folks over 50; Sugar Publishing blog network for gals. Likes his odds: "More people will participate as entrepreneurs in the next 20 years than in the last 100 years."
2. L. John Doerr
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
The pied piper of the Web directed Amazon, Google, Intuit to Nasdaq. Now leads the charge for "green" tech (Bloom Energy, a solid-state fuel cell company; Miasole solar panels), which occupies a third of Kleiner's time and money. Fears a repeat of 1918 flu pandemic. Invests hundreds of millions to fight infectious diseases (Amyris Biotechnologies) and bioterrorism. Puts political clout and personal funds behind education reform and antipoverty efforts.
3. Andreas von Bechtolsheim
Put $200,000 of his own money into Google for a stake now worth $1.7 billion. German electrical engineer, serial entrepreneur and Fulbright scholar ditched Stanford Ph.D. program to cofound Sun Microsystems. Sold Granite Systems to Cisco in 1996, Kealia to Sun in 2004. Now back at Sun as chief architect; credited with restoring its server business to profitability and relevance.
4. Ram Shriram
Former Netscape and Amazon exec became an angel investor in Google. Also invested in Mumbai's PayMate and travel site Cleartrip. Funded jobs site Naukri, India's first Internet initial offering.
5. David Cheriton
Teaches computer programming at Stanford. Current course: Object-Oriented Programming from a Modeling and Simulation Perspective. Is also a billionaire, thanks to being an early adviser to Google guys Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Among his favorite subjects: distributed interactive simulation. Donated $21 million in Google stock to Canadian alma mater Waterloo University.
6. Ronald Conway
Icon of the last boom/bust got in early at Google. Big believer in Web 2.0, but with a shotgun approach: has invested in more than 100 deals. Favorites include Snocap (music sharing), Rupture (games), Associated Content (citizen journalism).
7. Michael Grimes
Silicon Valley's top investment banker since the fall of Credit Suisse First Boston titan Frank Quattrone. Grimes stayed put while other white-shoe shops left Sand Hill Road. Commitment pays off: Morgan got Google and was best among 2006 tech IPOs: SAIC, Optium, E-Health, Isilon. Onetime software engineer with the "Star Wars" antimissile program now supports injured Marine and Army vets and charter schools.
8. Lawrence Sonsini
Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati
His Ferragamos are close to the fire these days. Tied to Hewlett-Packard's pretexting scandal and other firms' options backdating. Still, Sonsini counseled more tech giants in the past decade than any other lawyer. A few notables: Google, Crystal Decisions, VMWare.
9. Jay Hoag
Technology Crossover Ventures
Currently investing $1.4 billion fund. Last year's hit: Penson Worldwide's initial public offering. Late-stage investor in Netflix, which, at $1.5 billion, has a higher market capitalization than Blockbuster ($1.2 billion).
10. Thomas Ng
Granite Global Ventures
Bacteriologist founded GGV to take advantage of boom in Asia. Funded Sirna Therapeutics, sold to Merck for $1.1 billion; funded Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, sold 40% stake to Yahoo for $1 billion.
11. Jixun Foo
Granite Global Ventures
Found success with Baidu (China's Google) at DFJ Eplanet. Left for GGV's Shanghai office, where Granite is deploying half of a $400 million fund. Betting on ChinaCars (automobile site), BlogCn (China's first free blog host), Yicai (personnel services).
12. Asad Jamal
One of first VCs to go global. Co-founded DFJ Eplanet in 1999. Scored with Skype, now parting from DFJ and raising Eplanet's own fund: 80% tech, 20% life sciences. Home's in London but spends most of his time in China, India and Silicon Valley. Launching nonprofit GoodPlanet to fund social entrepreneurs.
13. David Douglass
Money man has invested in 50 medical-device startups. Took face-lift-procedure company Thermage public, sold Rita Medical (cancer-melting heat rays), MicroVention (coils that obliterate aneurysms), Vida-Med and Oratec Interventional.
14. Henry Shaw
Low-profile financier scored huge with Shanghai chip fab SMIC, a monster 2004 initial public offering overshadowed that year only by the stock debut of Google.
15. Ta-Lin Hsu
H&Q Asia Pacific
Electronics investor hit pay dirt with SMIC. Gave Starbucks a handle on China by selling it 60-store Beijing chain Mei Da Coffee. Backed a gated community in Shanghai's buzzing Pudong neighborhood.
16. David Katsujin Chao
DCM-Doll Capital Management
The winning formula in Asia: mix it up. In China, chips (SMIC) and a marketplace for jobs (51Job). In Japan, wireless networks (JCI), online advertising (Adways) and anime software (Celsys). New DCM investments include All About, Japan's version of About.com; a Korean YouTube knockoff; a Japanese airline; and Oriental Standard, which ships Chinese IT staffers to Japan.
17. Bruce Evans
Late-stage financier moves up from number 57. Got his start selling computers for IBM before going to Harvard Business School. Big IPOs: Hittite Microwave (wireless chips), Unica (marketing campaign software), online brokerage OptionsXpress.
18. Timothy Draper
Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Third-generation VC. Set up 15 global affiliates, which brought him Skype and Baidu. Says DFJ still has "a lot of harvesting to do." Investor in and director of Glam.com (fashion), SocialText (wikis), TagWorld (next-gen MySpace), Meebo (instant messaging), Reva (electric cars in India). Personal investments: Golden Baseball League, Lupita Island resort on Lake Tanganyika, Tanzania. Costars in new Nickelodeon show, about an all-kid pop band, with family. Sister directs.
19. Howard Hartenbaum
Invests his and William Draper's millions from San Francisco base. Was the first money in Skype; claims thousandfold return--not bad for 20 months. Excited by Decentral.tv, interactive video over the Web. Working with Attributor, which aims to help publishers get credit for their work copied online.
20. Mark Tluszcz
Mangrove Capital Partners
Another Skype score. American raised in Africa and Europe, works in Luxembourg. Funds European and Russian real estate, financial services and Web outfits. First deal: his brother's brewery. Makes his own cava in Spain, $10 a bottle.
21. G. Felda Hardymon
Bessemer Venture Partners
Once taught math at Duke, joined BVP in 1981. Splits time between doing venture capital and teaching it at Harvard Business School. Past deals: Cascade Communications, Parametric Technology, Sirocco Networks. Sold Celtel, an African wireless network, to Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company. Also does nontech: Sports Authority, Staples.
22. Robert Stavis
Bessemer Venture Partners
Says he generated a hundredfold return on Skype. Gets ideas from teenage son and daughter: Seenon.com (a way to buy stuff you've seen on TV) and Kajeet (pay-as-you-go wireless for kids). Backs software (Pure Networks, Portrait Software), financial services (Soleil Securities, Quadriserv). Amateur chef owns stakes in eight restaurants, grows 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.
23. Roelof Botha
Grandson of former South African foreign minister, immigrated to U.S. in 1998. Was CFO of PayPal while finishing Stanford M.B.A. at age 28. Joined Sequoia after selling PayPal to Ebay for $1.5 billion. First VC to believe in YouTube. Public can see 88 of his videoclips, many of his cooing baby, on the site. "The days of listening to editorial opinion are numbered."
24. Annette Campbell-White
Founded health VC firm in 1986, made money on ArthroCare, TheraSense, Cutera. Breast cancer survivor excited about Intact Medical (breast tumor excision), Vital Therapies (liver-assist devices). Sold Vascular Control Systems (surgical devices) to Johnson & Johnson in 2006 for $100 million. Worries medtech deal prices are inflating. Opera patron started nonprofit for music, science scholarships in native New Zealand.
25. Daniel Rimer
Born in Montreal, raised in Geneva. Internet analyst promoted at age 28 to managing director at Hambrecht & Quist (acquired by JPMorgan). Took Netscape public in 1995, cofounded a VC firm with Netscape's James Barksdale in 1999. Joined Index's London office in 2002 after the Barksdale Group closed. Former Skype director now works on database maker MySQL, TV ad manager SpotRunner and other ventures.
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