17 thoughts on “The Midas List? Yeah, sure, & I'm Brad Pitt”

  1. The real problem with these wildly inaccurate lists is they reinforce behavior that is specifically designed to manipulate the press. Example: “buying posters” = buying shares in super late stage companies (sometimes on secondary markets) in order to put the logo on the VC’s website. The press doesn’t know or doesn’t bother to figure this out, and then put, say, Peter Thiel (who invested in FB super early stage) and Kleiner (who bought secondary shares at >$50B valuation) in the same bucket.

    1. Chris,

      Totally agree and I have been railing against this forever. I think it is just lack of real nuances which is causing this list to be all over the place. I knew some of the founder/editors of this list and the rigor then was much much higher.

  2. Om, since the complaint is around methodology, and the salient methodology point is, “To assess performance, we looked at all venture-backed initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions valued at more than $200 million over the last five years, since 2007.”

    Are you saying that’s a bad methodology or that Forbes didn’t execute it accurately?

    I don’t have a hard time believing Forbes executed that methodology accurately–it isn’t that hard as the information needed is a matter of public record.

    What’s murky and very difficult to assess are things like how many bad investments a particular fund made that lost capital and offset those wins.

    Nevertheless, there is some kind of merit in who is getting the most public and acquisition top line return back to the fund.



  3. Seth Goldstein ‎+1. who would you rather have lead your series A (or invest your LP money) than Fred Wilson? Its kind of like asking, “which QB would you pick to start your superbowl?” There are four or five equally good answers (Brady, Brees, Rogers, Manning/s) but in the end it comes down to chemistry and personal taste.

  4. You seriously don’t know who John Doerr is? He keeps a low profile, but he’s one of the most successful VCs of the last 30 years. Ask Marc Andreesen about him – Doerr invested in Netscape.

    1. Actually “D” where does in the story does it say I don’t know John Doerr. And no, he doesn’t keep a low profile. I think now Marc does a better job in the PR business.

      The point is that he hasn’t had a high-return investment like Netscape in a long long time and to put him ahead of investors who have a track record that is better than him since “2007” the cut off date by Forbes.

      1. I quote from the article:

        ” I don’t know, say, John Doerr, for example, who is ranked at the #12 spot.”

      2. Fine, it was a joke that went over my head. You could’ve said that the first time instead of asking “where does in the story does it say I don’t know John Doerr”

        FWIW Doerr is an early investor in Twitter and Square and is on the board of Groupon. He’s also done a lot of life science investing that gets less attention.

  5. Hi Om,
    Thanks for taking the time to read through the Midas List and the methodology. It’s an imperfect list and always was, just like the 400 and the Billionaires lists are imperfect, incomplete and always were. But I don’t think you can argue it’s bullshit, weak or deeply flawed. I asked a dozen or so VCs what they thought about the old list and they mostly laughed at what happened to it over time. They gave us some good advice which we aggregated into a new approach with TrueBridge. The flaws in years past (even the years you worked at Forbes.com) were that the methodology was overcomplicated, suffered from false precision and had the appearance of being under the influence of the whims of an editor. So we took a cleaner, more purely data-driven approach this time around built around the only clean data we had: exits and who got in when. The biggest flaw is that we don’t know what pre- or post-money valuations are for enough rounds to make cost basis a consistent data point. It would be awesome if we had that confirmed for each deal. Do you want to work on that with us next year? We could spend all year just investigating cost bases for 100s of deals..and would the list look that much different? I doubt it.

    The methodology gives Fred Wilson credit for being early in his start-ups. The amount we give VCs for their exits is discounted higher the later they get in. So Fred gets more for his buck in Twitter than KPCB does. Doerr is higher for other reasons than Twitter.

  6. 🙂 very insightful, any solution? Annual om deal maker list!?

    Like ex forbes china rich list rupert founded & run his own hurun list..

    Hard work though!?


    1. Not sure I want to make another list here, Gareth 🙂 I would like to see Forbes get more serious about this list and actually do more in-depth reporting to make this is a good list, just as it used to be.

      1. I can understand fully.. for list as such, IMHO, the creator need to take full ownership, and really be part of the ‘system’ to be able to ‘make the call’ and make and defend the list.. most employee would not be able to do it.. (for those that could, would probably decide to start his/her own list)..

        being able to ‘stay’ the course, and work with others is not a Tech issue, I asked similar question to Lord Green (ex Chairman of HSBC) regarding regulations in the financial sector worldwide… interesting to hear how he skillfully answered the question: http://garethcxo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/must-watch-lord-stephen-greens-lecture.html

        doing such a list is a thankless task.. but a brilliantly intellectually challenging but maybe rewarding one (a potential career) for some.. 😉


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