These guys have the power to swoop in from on high and grab the deals that lesser angels can only envy.
How big is his fund: $950 million total, in two funds.
Cred: Serves on boards of eBay and Facebook; chairman at Ning, which he cofounded in 2005; cofounder of Netscape, which launched the dot-com boom.
Seeds: 28 currently (before that, he and cofounder Ben Horowitz invested in many other companies going back to 2004).
How he thinks: “I sit down at my desk before I go to sleep, pull up my to-do list…and pick out the 3 to 5 things I am going to get done tomorrow. I write those things on a fresh 3x5 card, lay the card out with my car keys, and go to bed. Then, the next day, I try like hell to get just those things done. If I do, it was a successful day.”
Super bets: Aliph; LinkedIn; Twitter; Foursquare.
Twitter followers: 3,898.
Typical tweet: His one and only tweet, back in 2007, was “twittering!”
How big is his fund: $20 million.
Cred: A rep so towering that 5,000 or so people refer deals to him.
Seeds: 500, with more than 200 exits.
How he thinks: “I love it when we invest in a company with an 18-year-old because it's going to be much more exciting. The world is their oyster, and anything's possible in their minds. That is the best entrepreneur ever.”
Super bets: Google; PayPal; Ask Jeeves; Good Technology; Facebook; Zappos. (But he turned down Salesforce.com, to his eternal regret.)
Twitter followers: 1,953—though he has yet to tweet.
How big is his fund: $20 million of Greylock's money to play around with.
Cred: Cofounder of LinkedIn; former exec at PayPal.
Seeds: 80+ investments (and that's pre-Greylock).
How he thinks: “Few business plans ever pan out like their owners intend. PayPal started as a plan to beam payments between Palm Pilots…. After five minutes of a pitch, I know if I'm not going to invest, and after 30 minutes to an hour, I generally know if I will.”
Super bets: Facebook; Zynga; Digg; Flickr.
Twitter followers: 16,015.
Typical tweet: “What is hard about making decisions: making decisions reduces opportunity in the short term. but decisions mean long term opportunity.”
How big is his fund: $250 million.
Cred: Cofounder of PayPal; first outside investor in Facebook.
Seeds: Hard to say, but 36 through Founders Fund alone.
How he thinks: “The angel-VC thing feels very crowded. To invest, you want to always be fundamental and contrarian, and while I think there's a fundamental story of how the Internet's going to grow,
it's not as contrarian as it was three or four years ago.”
Super bets: Facebook; Twilio; SpaceX; Spotify.
Twitter followers: 420, also without posting a single tweet.
Vets of some of web 2.0's biggest success stories, they've proved over and over that they still know how to pick 'em—for themselves and for their investors.
How big is his fund: Unknown.
Cred: Kleiner Perkins; Starbucks; Microsoft; eBay.
Hit rate: 10 exits.
How he thinks: “Don't worry so much about figuring out the ‘path'….Make decisions. Go. Try.”
Super bets: Twitter (which acquired another of his bets, Mixer Labs); Aardvark (sold to Google); Parakey (to Facebook); Formspring; Rupture (to Electronic Arts).
Twitter followers: 542.
Typical tweet: “Quote from an iPhone dev: ‘Apple is like the drunk abusive husband. you never know when they are going to come home drunk and smash skulls.' ”
How big is his fund: $15 million.
Cred: 22 years in enterprise software as an entrepreneur, senior exec, or VC; dubbed one of the 13 “Web 2.0 King Makers” by the late Business 2.0.
Seeds: 59 since 2007.
Hit rate: 16 exits.
How he thinks: “We help people fulfill their dreams and, if we can, make some money along the way.”
Super bets: Mint (sold to Intuit for $170 million); Userplane (to AOL); MyBlogLog (to Yahoo!); Kaboodle (to Hearst); Maya's Mom (to Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter).
Twitter followers: 12,055.
Typical tweet: “I just ousted @ifindkarma as the mayor of Gyros Gyros on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/6cFXFb.”
How big is his fund: He won't say.
Cred: Ex-eBay top exec; Stanford prof; “the startup whisperer.”
Seeds: 29 portfolio companies on the Harrison Metal site.
Hit rate: 5 of those 29 have been acquired.
How he thinks: Friendly but notoriously tight-lipped—you have to take one of his courses (sample title: “Creating Infectious Action”) to find out.
Super bets: AdMob, Aardvark, and DocVerse (all acquired by Google); Xoopit (by Yahoo!); Mixer Labs.
Twitter followers: 564.
Typical tweet: “Open tweet to @mikebloomberg: Please can't you come to California and be the governor?”
How big is his fund: $73.5 million.
Cred: One of Fortune's “Eight Rising VC Stars” in 2008.
Hit rate: 6 exits.
How he thinks: Referencing Godzilla, he looks for “Thunderlizards”—“a company that disrupts its industry, earns a 100-fold return, and makes up for all of a fund's bad bets.” But of consumer Web 2.0, he warns: “It's starting to get a little played out.”
Super bets: Chegg (textbook rental site); Digg; Twitter; partnering with Stanford lecturer Ann Miura-Ko (according to Forbes, “the most powerful woman in startups”). He was also an entrepreneur in a broadband-software play that IPO'd in '04. But nobody's perfect—he passed on Zynga.
Twitter followers: 3,654.
Typical tweet: “Pondering: which eagles song was better ‘sad cafe' or ‘new kid in town'? A very tough call…”
How big is his fund: He's raising $30 million.
Cred: One of those PayPal mafiosos.
Seeds: 100 in the past 2.5 years.
Hit rate: 6 exits.
How he thinks: “Invest early at low cost in people who you think are smart and have built some promising products, know how to iterate, and understand conversion metrics.”
Super bet: Mint.
Twitter followers: 36,373.
Typical tweet: “so if i make the Economist as a SuperVillain/SuperDevil VC, should i still show my Mom? #JustSpellMyNameRight.”
How big is his fund: $22 million.
Cred: Epinions founder and serial entrepreneur.
Hit rate: 5 exits.
How he thinks: To paraphrase: Have humility; be dispassionate; build your personal brand; don't move in a herd but do be a pack animal. And remember: Not everyone has all the information.
Super bet: Twitter.
Twitter followers: 4,014.
Typical tweet: “4:30AM EDT. Brain shutting down. Heart rate slowing. Fingers going numb. But somehow…still tweeting.”
How big is his fund: He's cagey about details, but he claims funds in excess of $200 million.
Cred: Google's former head of special initiatives; “possibly the most influential businessman in America,” says the Wall Street Journal.
Hit rate: Says he doesn't keep count, then adds, “I have had substantially more money come out than go in.”
How he thinks: “I only work with teams I'm proud to work with.”
Super bets: Twitter; DailyBooth; Posterous; 280 North (acquired by Motorola).
Twitter followers: 1,305,712.
Typical tweet: “I bust Zuck's balls frequently, as you all know. But, I think his $100m gift to public schools is honorable.”
How big is his fund: $40 million.
Cred: Google's first product manager.
Hit rate: 16 exits.
How he thinks: “Our mission is to be disruptive in a field where most existing players have hardly changed the way they operate.”
Super bets: Mint; Tapulous; Disqus.
Twitter followers: 4,367.
Typical tweet: “3 success factors from a delta force commander (Peter Blaber): innovation, adaptation, audacity—it's so true.”
The devil you know
They made their names as venture capitalists, but they can fly like angels, too—although the best known of them is still earning his wings.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
How big: As big as they come; just announced a $250 million fund for social-network startups.
Cred: Claims that in his 30 years as a VC, companies he's backed have created 150,000 jobs.
VC deals: Amazon; Google; Intuit; Compaq; Amyris Biotechnologies; Bloom Energy.
How he thinks: “[Great entrepreneurs are] missionaries, not mercenaries. Mercenaries are motivated by financial statements; missionaries are all about value statements. Mercenaries have got an incredible lust for making money; missionaries are interested in making meaning—and also money.”
How big: $1 billion to invest in the U.S. alone.
Cred: Former Kleiner Perkins entrepreneur-in-residence; former CEO of IronPlanet (annual gross $500 million); brought Facebook to Accel.
VC deals: Groupon; BranchOut; Metacafe (whose cofounder Eyal Hertzog has said, “Working with [Efrusy] is the first time I'm getting real value-add from a VC”).
How he thinks: “You have to pick your poison, take risks, and stick your neck out—that's what our business is about….We try to do things that are really, really early and help build these teams when we can.”
How big: $480 million in Accel's growth fund alone.
Cred: Former Sequoia Capital partner; led deals with eHarmony and Gracenote (sold to Sony for $260 million).
VC deals: Dropbox; StumbleUpon; Quidsi (parent company of Diapers.com and Soap.com).
How he thinks: Must be the strong, silent type, because we couldn't find a single quote worth printing.
How big: Sits on 9 boards.
Cred: Former president and CEO of Sentient Networks (acquired by Cisco, alongside another company, for $445 million).
VC deals: Bump; ImageShack; Loopt; PowerFile; RockYou—and the hottest incubator out there, Y Combinator.
How he thinks: “At the end of the day, without that great [market] wave, even if you're a great entrepreneur, you're not going to build a really great business.” The company should be able “to create an inferno with a single match.”
How big: The firm is huge; as an individual angel, he's planning at least four deals at about $500,000 each this year (or so he told AngelList).
Cred: Worked with what are now T-Mobile and Verizon while at Morgan Stanley in the '90s; early employee at Netscape and AOL; advises Slide (recently bought by Google for $228 million).
VC deals: Bitfone; Good Technology; Ingenio; LogMeIn; Opsware; Tellme; iLike.
How he thinks: “My perspective on angel and VC investors is shaped by my own experiences as an entrepreneur on the firing line, trying to get revenue in the door.” He looks for “companies [that] aspire to be worth billions.”
Young, rich, and very smart, these solo investors can spot a great idea a mile away. the goal isn't necessarily to get richer, though they'd be fine with that.
Cred: YouTube's first user-interface designer; preparing to launch TheIceBreak (“I can't give too many details, but it's relationship focused”).
Deals to date: 7.
How she thinks: “I like to invest in things that are fun—it's a big thing for me.”
Best bets: Greplin; HeyZap; InDinero.
Cred: Hire number 23 at Google (where he created Gmail and coined the company's “Don't be evil” mantra); founded FriendFeed and sold it to Facebook; currently working at Facebook.
Deals to date: Around 50, with 10 or so exits.
How he thinks: “There's a tendency for [angel wannabes] to say, ‘Wow, that's really great' and want to put in all their money. You shouldn't invest anything that you would mind losing.”
Best bets: 280 North; Y Combinator; Opzi; Rapportive; ReMail (acquired by Google); AppJet (ditto); Optimizely.
Cred: Ex-Facebook and -Apple; CEO of Napster founder Shawn Fanning's hot new startup, Path.
Deals to date: 18.
How he thinks: “Technology will continue to move faster than our ability to set public policy within our current processes. How do we evolve the process to support innovation?”
Best bets: Formspring; Foodspotting; Trazzler.
Cred: Investing since 1996; former chair of StumbleUpon; CEO of TextMarks.
Deals to date: 25 since 2005, about 50 since 1996.
How he thinks: “I try not to focus on the most popular areas but on the best things where I can help the most.”
Best bets: Strava; Thumbtack.
Cred: Member of the PayPal mafia; executive vice president at Slide (sold to Google); COO of Square; sits on Yelp board.
Deals to date: 55 since 2003.
How he thinks: “There are several companies that, within 30 seconds, I knew were going to work.”
Best bets: InDinero; AirBnB; Milo.
Cred: Digg founder and site architect; featured on BusinessWeek cover: “How This Kid Made $60 Million in 18 Months.”
Deals to date: 12, with 1 exit.
How he thinks: “I was an Eagle Scout. I like helping…[but] I have to personally want to use the service.”
Best bets: Twitter; Foursquare; Zynga; Square; Path.
Cred: Founded Delicious (and reportedly made $15 million off its sale to Yahoo!); currently in the early stages of launching a new company.
Deals to date: 47.
How he thinks: “[Other] investors are focused on finding the next big thing, but I'm trying to avoid the things that are not going to happen-music startups, for example. Music is an incredibly tough environment.”
Best bets: Foursquare; Square; DailyBooth; Bump; Etsy.
Cred: Early hire at Google; cofounded XG Ventures in 2008.
Deals to date: 25, with 5 exits.
How she thinks: “I think there's greater opportunity than ever right now. The holy grail for me is a local ad-targeting play that really works.”
Best bets: Tapulous (bought by Disney); Aardvark (acquired by Google); AppJet; Plusmo (acquired by AT&T); Posterous.
The entrepreneurs get younger and younger And their ideas more and more intriguing—as the Past year's most talked-about startups show.
Why the scrum: Aoun is rumored to have turned down a $10 million offer from Yahoo!—and anything Ron Conway wants in on causes a fuss.
Big idea: Create social content in real time from news, blogs, and tweets and deliver it through a Facebook-like feed.
Lucky angels: SV Angel; Aydin Senkut; Mitch Kapor; Max Levchin.
Raised to date: Won't comment, but says that the articles claiming $2 million aren't far off.
Nate Biecharczyk, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia
Age: 27, 28, and 29.
Why the scrum: Came out of Y Combinator with raves from the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.
Big idea: Rent anything from a treehouse to a castle from carefully vetted real people in 8,229 cities and counting.
Lucky angels: Sequoia Capital; Keith Rabois; Y Combinator.
Raised to date: Just got $7.2 million from Sequoia Capital and Greylock.
Adam D'Angelo, Charlie Cheever
Age: 26 and 29.
Why the scrum: D'Angelo used to be Facebook's CTO; Cheever was its engineering manager.
Big idea: Like Wikipedia, only with anonymous questions and answers.
Lucky angels: Benchmark Capital's Matt Cohler (ex-Facebook).
Raised to date: Thought to be around $11 million.
Why the scrum: Twitter cofounder, duh.
Big idea: Turn an iPhone into a credit-card swiper.
Lucky angels: Marissa Mayer (Google); Kevin Rose; Khosla Ventures; Brian Pokorny; Shawn Fanning; Joshua Schachter; Ron Conway; MC Hammer (seriously).
Raised to date: $10 million.
Adam Goldstein, Steve Huffman
Age: 22 and 27.
Why the scrum: Huffman's last venture, Reddit, was snapped up by Condé Nast.
Big idea: A better and prettier way to look at your flight options online.
Lucky angels: SV Angel; Khosla Ventures; Paul Buchheit; Matt Mullenweg (WordPress); Sam Altman (Loopt); Y Combinator.
Raised to date: About $1 million.
Why the scrum: Girl prodigy founded a web business at age 13 and graduated from high school at 15—now she's the darling of the Y Combinator crowd.
Big idea: A financial-management site that promises to be Mint for small businesses.
Lucky angels: Dave McClure; Keith Rabois; Christina Brodbeck; Jeremy Stoppelman (Yelp); Jawed Karim (YouTube).
Raised to date: $1.2 million—and the checks are still rolling in.
Why the scrum: Previous venture, Tickle, sold to Monster.com for $100 million.
Big idea: LinkedIn meets Facebook—a way to use your friends to find jobs.
Lucky angels: Mike Maples; Shawn Fanning; Matt Mulleneg; Naval Ravikant; Josh Elman (ex-Facebook, now Twitter).
Raised to date: $6 million.
Jake Mintz, Dave Lieb, Andy Huibers
Age: 27, 30, and 40.
Why the scrum: Came out of Y Combinator; plus, it's fun.
Big idea: Trade contact information by bumping phones together.
Lucky angels: Aydin Senkat; Joshua Schachter; Sequoia Capital; Ron Conway.
Raised to date: $3.5 million.
Dave Morin, Shawn Fanning
Age: Both 30.
Why the scrum: Napster founder Fanning paired with ex-Facebooker and ex-Appler Morin, who made it to number 16 in Fast Company's “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2009. (See “Soaring Angels”)
Big idea: Lists of lists—e.g., “best coffee in SF”—with hotshots sharing their picks.
Lucky angels: A closely held secret.
Raised to date: In stealth mode.
Why the scrum: Ex-Googler who began investing through SV Angel (he was a partner) has morphed into an entrepreneur.
Big idea: Twitter with photos.
Lucky angels: Y Combinator; Sequoia Capital; SV Angel; Chris Sacca; Aydin Senkut; Kevin Rose; and, of course, Ashton Kutcher.
Raised to date: Less than $1 million.
Why the scrum: By Y Combinator Demo Day, its customer base was growing 15 percent a week.
Big idea: Makes regular old Gmail look and act like Facebook.
Lucky angels: Paul Buchheit; Dave McClure; 11 others.
Raised to date: More than $1 million.
The doing-well-by-doing-good segment of the INVESTOR world includes plenty of people and organizations not named skoll.
By Justine Sharrock
How big: 12 investments, ranging from $25,000 to $500,000.
Cred: Cofounded AssetMark, sold it for nearly $230 million; co-chair of Genworth Financial, an $18 billion investment-management platform.
Seeds: Lots and lots, if you consider that he invests in microfinance.
Focus: Microcredit lending in the U.S. and abroad; sustainable schools in Kenya and Guatemala; home ownership for local low-income families.
On the side: Helped found University of the Pacific's social-entrepreneur program and, with the school, paid for needy entrepreneurs from around the world to attend a conference; worked with the Rockefeller Foundation to create the Global Impact 50 Index, a NASDAQ for social-impact companies.
How he thinks: Believes in “hand-ups” rather than “hand-outs.”
Best bets: Bridge International Academies (ultra-low-cost private schools in Nairobi); buying bank-owned homes in the East Bay to resell to low- and moderate-income families.
Classic tweet: Not on Twitter, though his comments have been tweeted.
How big: About 60 investments of up to $1 million each.
Cred: Managing partner at Labrador Ventures, an early-stage, tech-focused VC fund.
Seeds: 10 to 20, including the Acumen Fund, a leading impact-investment group.
Focus: Poverty alleviation and access to employment in the U.S. and abroad.
On the side: Founded what became REDF, a job-creation and job-placement program for low-income and homeless people and ex-convicts; funds internships for MBA students at nonprofits; on the boards of Acumen and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
How he thinks: “Seek out uncommonly gifted social entrepreneurs and get them the means to make things happen.”
Best bets: Root Capital (helps Latin American and African businesses too big for microlenders, too small for banks); Pogo Park, in Richmond; Core Innovation Capital (loans for entrepreneurs).
Classic tweet: He doesn't use Twitter, but others do who repeat his words: “portfolio investing good, systems investing up/down value chain is better.”
How big: In addition to his own investments, his firm oversees more than $100 million in social-impact money for Kapor Enterprises and other institutions.
Cred: Founder of Bronze Investments, an asset-management firm for endowments and high-net worth individuals; former investment director at Omidyar Network.
Focus: Energy, food, and property—mostly in the U.S., but also in disaster-stricken places such as Haiti.
On the side: On the board of the Dalai Lama Foundation; chairman of Friends of New Orleans.
How he thinks: Passion matters. When an entrepreneur has it, “the universe conspires to help them, and so do I.”
Best bets: UniversityNow (open-platform, adaptive, and affordable online college courses); Emerald Cities Collaborative (job creation through clean-energy retrofitting); Prosper (formalized peer-to-peer lending).
Classic tweet: “Who gets VC money? Mostly white folks in their late 30s. Black folks get 1%. Here's the data.”
How big: 10 investments, ranging from $15,000 to $700,000.
Cred: Former CEO of Net Market Makers, a B2B commerce site with $18 million in revenue.
Focus: Alleviating pov-erty caused by climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and forced migration.
On the side: Founder of SoCap, the social-capital convention; led a program with Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs to distribute insecticide-treated bed nets in Swaziland and Mozambique.
How he thinks: It's all about “scalable social impact: something that can expand or be replicated, rather than be a one-off project or company.”
Best bets: Hub (a workspace and incubator downstairs from the Chronicle); Better World Books (an Amazon that gives back, and it's carbon neutral); the Hoop Fund (a microloan and shopping site).
Classic tweet: “@tbeckett well giving is also a bet on a future you want to be part of, so in some ways it acts like an investment. it has long term value.”
How big: His Omidyar Network has made $371 million in for-profit and nonprofit investments since 2004, plus a $55 million pledge announced at a recent Clinton Global Initiative event.
Cred: eBay's founder and chairman.
Seeds: You name it, he's funded it.
Focus: Access to capital and transparency in government to foster political change; operates worldwide, but mainly in India and subSaharan Africa.
On the side: When you're this big, there is no “on the side.”
How he thinks: With the right information, capital, and ways to connect, individuals can make true change.
Best bets: LeapFrog (the first microinsurance fund); Digg; Kiva; Meet-up; Ashoka (funding and networking for 2,000 social entrepreneurs).
Classic tweet: “The more citizens understand what govts are doing, the more power they have to have impact on those policies
They've made their gazillions; now they want to save the planet before it's too late.
By Nic Buron
How big: Lots and lots of money in offshore wind technology.
Cred: Founder of Clean Economy Network; CEO of Principle Power.
How he thinks: After surviving the 9/11 attacks in New York, he opted to change his life completely. He believes “clean tech solves the 21st century's problems.”
On the side: Sponsor of Cleantech Open; committee member at Imagine H2O (a nonprofit focused on helping entrepreneurs trying to make sure the world has enough drinkable water); served on mayor Gavin Newsom's clean-tech advisory council; and the list goes on and on.
Best bets: Cool Earth Solar; Heartland Resource Technologies (low-cost, soy protein-based adhesive technology for use in things like engineered wood products); Azure Power (India's first private power plan, which uses solar energy to provide electricity to 32 villages in Punjab).
How big: Worth more than $1 billion; reportedly banked a $250 million seed fund for infotech and green “science experiments” deemed too risky for his VC firm.
Cred: Cofounder of Sun Microsystems (sold for $7.4 billion); top VC at Kleiner Perkins before splitting off to form his own firm.
Seeds: 15 to 20.
How he thinks: Loves technologies with “black swan potential”—i.e., that “disrupt the energy space.”
On the side: Active investor in microlending and social entrepreneurship ventures; occasional blogger for Huffington Post; charter member of the Indus Entrepreneurs (a nonprofit that runs the world's largest networking conference for entrepreneurs); chairman of the advisory council to the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech.
Best bets: Amyris (a process to create synthetic fuel that started with efforts to make a malaria vaccine); Calera Capital (captures carbon emissions and uses them to create sustainable building materials); Seeo (highly effective rechargeable lithium batteries); GreatPoint Energy (captures dirty fuel and turns it into clean natural gas).
How big: $2 million in clean tech alone.
Cred: Founded Match.com (and was the first to register the domain Sex.com).
How he thinks: Looks at “management, ideas, exits, and positivity.”
On the side: Volunteers with Imagine H2O.
Best bets: Clean Power Finance (solar-power loans); People Power Company (long-range, low-power Wi-Fi); Lifefactory (reusable, break-resistant glass drinking bottles).
How big: No one will say, though everyone confirms he's a player.
Cred: Sold eGroups to Yahoo! for $432 million; backed Google at the beginning.
Seeds: At least one for sure, but rumors suggest many more.
How he thinks: His experience at eGroups is said to have persuaded the Google guys (cofounder Larry Page is his younger brother) to hold off on getting VC funding until the company neared profitability. Smart move.
On the side: Serves on the board of ecoAmerica.
Best bet: Nanosolar.
How big: 12 investments, most around $1 million each.
Cred: Early LinkedIn investor; sold Brightmail to Symantec for $370 million.
Seeds: 8 active.
How he thinks: “I would rather invest in an OK idea and a great team than in an OK team and a great idea.”
On the side: Cofounder and chairman of Clean Economy Network; founder of Gigaton Throwdown Initiative (a group dedicated to finding the fastest way to scale clean tech).
Best bets: Nanosolar; Thinsilicon (thin-film solar-cell technology and architecture); Spride Share (helps nonpossessive types rent out their cars while they aren't using them).
CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund
How big: Expects to make 8 to 10 investments, of $300,000 to $500,000 each.
Cred: Her book Angel Financing for Entrepreneurs is tops in the field.
How she thinks: Won't invest unless she likes a company's “tech, team, market.”
On the side: Used her legal training to write a federal bill that would give tax credits for private equity financing; it didn't pass.
Best bets: Alphabet Energy (inexpensive technology that transforms waste heat into electricity); Lumetric (high-intensity discharge, or HID, lighting).