[Forbes] The Best VCs.

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From: Adam Rifkin -4K (adam@XeNT.ics.uci.edu)
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 23:28:35 PDT

[Sorry, Bill Gurley, but Forbes likes two of your colleagues at
Benchmark better. Thanks Linda for sending me this link...]


Gee, this sounds familiar: "Calling Khosla brilliant is also a code for
saying he is very, very difficult to work with. Brainy and abrasive is
the essence of Vinod Khosla. He is one of venture capital's greatest
visionaries, but, says one source, 'Managing people is not his

> When we went out and polled numerous venture capitalists, investment
> bankers, and entrepreneurs on who they consider to be the best VCs in
> the country, we were a little worried we'd get the same old names. And
> while we did get a few we expected (Doerr, Khosla, Moritz), we also got
> a few we didn't (McCance, Roizen). Even more interesting, our poll often
> uncovered the hidden talent in some top-tier firms, such as Benchmark
> Capital's Andy Rachleff. The list below also illustrates the changing
> world of venture capital. Not only are two women represented but so are
> two VCs from Softbank Venture Capital and Benchmark Capital, companies
> that weren't even around five years ago. The only other firms so well
> represented are the venerable Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and
> Sequoia Capital. In addition, one of our biggest point getters was a
> Young Turk named Geoff Yang at Redpoint Ventures.
> JIM BREYER Accel Partners
> What nobody knows: He's an avid fly fisherman.
> Achilles' heel: "Taking on too much responsibility"
> Last deal: Walmart.com
> Most famous deal: Walmart.com
> Biggest mistake: "Not devoting enough time to helping a save-the-schools
> initiative"
> Number of company board seats: 10
> If you had to pick the best person to bring the world's largest
> retailer, Wal-Mart, into the world's largest potential market, the
> Internet, Breyer's the right one for the job. Called "the best ever" and
> "world-class" by our sources, Breyer is most admired for his ability to
> build enduring companies. Says one industry watcher, "If you're in a
> market where you want to get as much attention as possible, and then get
> out quick, you go to a P. T. Barnum type like Doerr. If you want a
> long-haul guy, you go to Breyer." Of course, in the age of Internet
> time, that may prove more of a liability than an asset.
> Still, it's worked so far. His investments include RealNetworks, Agile
> Software, Macromedia, Foundry Networks, Redback Networks, Actuate, and a
> score of other companies that have either gone public or been bought.
> McKinsey grad Breyer is also known for being very smart, but without the
> usual attendant arrogance. "He's got less pride of ownership of new
> ideas than most of those guys," says a source. That gentlemanliness,
> though, doesn't extend to his peers: Accel was a prototype of today's
> generation of hardball venture capital firms. Sitting in his
> glass-enclosed throne room in the Bastille-like Accel headquarters,
> Breyer is a benevolent ruler but a deadly neighbor.
> JERRY COLONNA Flatiron Partners
> What nobody knows: No M.B.A., just a B.A.
> Achilles' heel: Too instinctual, not methodical
> Last deal: Small World Sports
> Most famous deal: GeoCities
> Biggest mistake: "Not moving fast enough to change a CEO at a portfolio
> company"
> Number of company board seats: 5
> Colonna describes himself as a "West Coast-style investor: You know,
> shoot first and ask questions later." It's a remarkable comment from a
> guy who graduated with a degree in English literature from Queens
> College, talks with his hands, and works on Park Avenue as the managing
> partner in a company named after Manhattan's oldest skyscraper.
> But then, Colonna is no ordinary VC. For one thing, while other VCs have
> come out of journalism (Mike Moritz, Stewart Alsop), the voluble Colonna
> is one of the few who has a background as an editor and publisher: He
> spent nearly a decade at Information Week, three years as its editor. He
> is living proof that editors can be rehabilitated to perform useful work.
> Colonna, with partner Fred Wilson, founded Flatiron in 1996, when
> Silicon Alley was still a publicity ploy and New York hadn't seen a real
> high tech VC since Arthur Rock's departure almost 40 years before. The
> pair managed to find investors in Chase Capital and Softbank, printed up
> business cards at Kinko's, and were on their way.
> Not surprisingly, the reputation of Silicon Alley is synonymous with
> Colonna and Flatiron. Two of the best-known firms in the neighborhood,
> Multex.com and TheStreet, are Flatiron companies. But if being a rare
> example of an NYVC has given him a good rep, what put him on this list
> are the deals he's made outside the boroughs: StarMedia, the Latin
> American Internet portal, and GeoCities (acquired by Yahoo). These days,
> Colonna also is working with MOUSE Inc., a nonprofit group helping
> inner-city kids learn about technology. That doesn't sound like a
> typical shoot-from-the-hip West Coast-style investor.
> JOHN DOERR Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
> What nobody knows: He wears the same silver-and-dark-blue tie to
> virtually all outings.
> Achilles' heel: His fame and his extracurricular activities cut into his
> VC bandwidth.
> Last deal: Smartpipes
> Most famous deal: Netscape
> Biggest mistake: Investing in Go Corporation, an ill-fated pen-based
> computing company
> Number of company board seats: 19
> Listen...do you hear angels singing?
> It is no longer possible to write simply about this veteran venture
> capitalist named John Doerr, so wrapped is he now in the mantle of myth
> and fable. He has become both the sign and the signifier of high tech
> venture capitalism, a metaphor for success, the synecdoche of the entire
> e-commerce era. That's a lot of freight to carry to the office in your
> PalmPilot each morning. Megalomaniacs are made from a lot less. But it
> is to Doerr's credit that he hasn't become a grotesque or a hectoring
> Mother Hubbard (though, with time, all his Democratic political work
> bears that risk).
> The list of Doerr wins is itself a touchstone, like DiMaggio's major
> league record hitting streak--Compaq, Cypress, Netscape, Sun
> Microsystems, Lotus, Amazon.com, Healtheon, Intuit, Excite@Home. Even
> Doerr's failures, like pen computing, have an epic, Homeric quality to them.
> So why is John Doerr better than all the rest? One answer is timing.
> After leaving Intel in 1980, he got into the VC game at the right time
> and while still a young man. While most other 20-year venture veterans
> are all but out of the business, Doerr is still in his prime with no
> apparent loss of enthusiasm. He is a superb time manager ("I would
> rather have John Doerr on my board even if he's on 15 other boards,"
> says one source). He is also very smart, a shrewd judge of character--be
> it in a startup team or in an interviewing reporter--and a master (that
> is, you never see him do it) manipulator. Finally, with the same sleight
> of hand, Doerr is also a brilliant promoter both of himself and his
> companies ("the ultimate salesman," says one observer), talking only to
> a select group of friendly, powerful reporters. Put these together and
> you have a living legend. Nowadays, though, it's hard to tell whether
> Doerr is still unmatched at finding great companies (maybe not: He
> helped bring Martha Stewart Living to life) or whether he's so famous
> that all the great companies find their way to him. How long can he keep
> this up? Probably as long as he wants to. Or until his cell phone rings
> with a call from POTUS (President of the United States). We'll know the
> first Tuesday of November.
> IRWIN FEDERMAN U.S. Venture Partners
> What nobody knows: He's a pretty good cook.
> Achilles' heel: He's an old semiconductor guy in an Internet world.
> Last deal: BeVocal
> Most famous deal: Crescendo Communications
> Biggest mistake: Passed on too many investment opportunities that turned
> out well, such as Commerce One
> Number of company board seats: More than 12
> The San Jose Mercury News once called him "the most honest man in
> Silicon Valley," and nothing has changed. Federman, who looks like your
> tanned uncle from Miami and talks like a Brooklyn wholesaler, is the
> rarest of the rare. The former accountant is the only nonscientist ever
> to run a chip company successfully. Nine years after taking over the
> dying Monolithic Memories in 1978, he turned it into a $250 million
> winner and sold it for nearly half a billion to AMD. Since joining U.S.
> Venture in 1990, Federman has had a hand in deals as diverse as SanDisk,
> Nuance, Centillium, MMC Networks, and Check Point Software. Today, he
> remains one of the few VCs ever to have been a CEO of a major company.
> This gives him not only an unusual level of understanding but empathy.
> Which is a good thing because getting funded by him and his partner Phil
> Schlein (another corporate veteran, he was the former CEO of Macy's) is
> a unique experience: At a time when snap-judgment investments are the
> rule, USVP often takes weeks, even months, to make a decision. Even when
> he doesn't fund you, by the time the sagacious and tough Federman is
> finished with you, you've learned volumes about your company, your
> business, and yourself.
> BOB KAGLE Benchmark Capital
> What nobody knows: Collects antique fish decoys from Michigan
> Achilles' heel: "I'm a sucker for anyone who wants to do good while
> doing well."
> Last deal: EthnicGrocer.com
> Most famous deal: eBay
> Biggest mistake: Not investing in Starbucks
> Number of company board seats: 8
> Ebay. Nuff said.
> Actually, it's not. The Internet auction house is Kagle's most famous
> play, but Ariba, the B2B e-commerce company, has been Kagle's biggest
> returner to date.
> Kagle's exit in 1995 after a dozen years as a star at venture firm TVI
> was not only the biggest VC story of that year but, in retrospect,
> proved a turning point not only for the industry but the U.S. economy.
> Benchmark's (and Kleiner Perkins' contemporaneous commitment) to
> e-commerce startups sparked the entrepreneurial revolution that
> continues to this day. It would have been impressive enough to have
> pioneered this boom, but Kagle has managed to stay atop the wave, with
> investments as diverse as Art.com, Ethnic Grocer, and zipRealty.com. Not
> bad for a guy who studied car design at the General Motors Institute and
> apparently loves all things Michigan: fly fishing, the Pistons, and his
> old Corvette.
> VINOD KHOSLA Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
> What nobody knows: Very active in helping entrepreneurs in India
> Achilles' heel: He's a perfectionist, too controlling.
> Last deal: FireDrop
> Most famous deal: Juniper Networks
> Biggest mistake: Not recognizing the Cisco opportunity
> Number of company board seats: 7
> Mention Khosla's name and you always get the same look from both
> entrepreneurs and fellow VCs: a look of pursed-lip concentration. Then
> inevitably, after a few thoughtful moments, they say, "Vinod is very,
> very smart." There's no doubt about that. Khosla is one of the few VCs
> who is smarter than entrepreneurs. But the words, though true, are also
> a subterfuge because calling Khosla brilliant is also a code for saying
> he is very, very difficult to work with. Brainy and abrasive is the
> essence of Vinod Khosla. He is one of venture capital's greatest
> visionaries, but, says one source, "Managing people is not his
> strength." As Carl Russo, former CEO of Cerent, told The New York Times,
> "Vinod is the worst director of movies, but he is the best picker of scripts."
> At the heart of this abrasiveness are two traits that almost reach the
> preternatural in Khosla. One is competitiveness. Says one source, "Most
> people don't know this, but he's the ultimate competitor. Pure brass
> knuckles. He's so competitive that when you walk out with him to the
> parking lot, he tries to beat you to the car."
> The other is his relentlessness. Khosla is legendary for pressing and
> hectoring startup teams until they either disintegrate, run away or,
> most often, accept the wisdom of his judgment. Sound nasty? Oh yeah. But
> this is from a man who knows what it takes to build a big-time company:
> Khosla, after all, cofounded Sun Microsystems, and before that, CAD
> designer Daisy Systems. Today, he lists Excite, Juniper Networks, and
> Cerent (sold to Cisco) among his stellar successes.
> DOUG LEONE Sequoia Capital
> What nobody knows: He's driven by fear.
> Achilles' heel: Too optimistic
> Last deal: Oasys Technologies
> Most famous deal: VA Linux Systems
> Biggest mistake: Not making enough mistakes
> Number of company board seats: 11
> When you've sold Hewlett-Packard minicomputers on the mean streets of
> Harlem, everything else looks easy--even working with Don Valentine
> (also on our list). If Valentine looks for emerging technologies, and
> fellow Sequoian Mike Moritz (also on our list) prefers clever new
> category builders, Leone just wants a scrappy bunch of guys who can
> close a sale.
> It's a war out there, and Doug Leone is ready to fight. Says fellow
> listee (and admirer) Irwin Federman, "He's very well named [leone means
> "lion" in Italian] and probably eats five pounds of meat for breakfast.
> He's very aggressive but also very charming. He didn't leave his killer
> attitude behind when he left the corporate world."
> This total dedication to selling makes Leone something of an anachronism
> in an era when companies actually apologize for making money. That helps
> explain his investments in VA Linux, AccessLan, and Sentient Networks.
> Still, it hasn't kept Leone away from making investments in the
> ever-unprofitable e-commerce whirl; his plays include online jewelry
> site Miadora. Has Leone grown soft? Not to hear his peers tell it. On
> the contrary: He may be just the person to teach Web companies how to
> sell.
> HENRY McCANCE Greylock
> What nobody knows: Had seats at the Final Four this year and last
> Achilles' heel: Too patient with portfolio companies
> Last deal: Epsilon
> Most famous deal: Tellabs
> Biggest mistake: Failed to back BMC Software
> Number of company board seats: 6
> The dean of East Coast venture capital, McCance was one of the early
> visionaries to embrace software way before software was cool. He also
> led Greylock's investments in companies like Tellabs, which now boasts a
> $20 billion market cap, and Continental Cablevision. McCance was the
> fourth partner to join Greylock, teaming up with the firm back in 1969,
> four years after the partnership was founded. More than 30 years, 10
> partnerships, and $1.2 billion in investments later, he has become the
> "spiritual leader" of the firm, says Greylock partner Dave Strohm.
> That fits: McCance is a bit mysterious. It's difficult to find
> information about this guy. His work is always done behind the scenes,
> with nary a press appearance, even while fellow VCs are making the
> covers of GQ and Business Week. "Greylock has tried to let our CEOs be
> in the limelight, and we take the supporting-cast role," he says. It
> looks like McCance may become even lower profile (if that's possible):
> In another spiritual gesture, he's scaling back his responsibilities to
> give the younger partners a shot at getting the deals.
> MICHAEL MORITZ Sequoia Capital
> What nobody knows: He's the most cultured man in venture capital; knows
> his art and literature.
> Achilles' heel: His arrogance
> Last deal: X.com
> Most famous deal: Yahoo
> Biggest mistake: "Not getting into the VC business sooner"
> Number of company board seats: 6
> Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, and Michael Moritz, a partner at
> Sequoia, didn't invent the computer revolution. But of the two men,
> Moritz has the better claim. In the mid-'80s, the Welsh-born,
> Wharton-educated Moritz was working for Time magazine in San Francisco,
> and when the annual editors' poll was taken to designate the Man of the
> Year award, it is said that he made the unprecedented--and ultimately
> prescient--suggestion that the choice be neither man nor woman but the
> personal computer. In the mid-'90s, this same prescience let Moritz see
> the future in a couple of Stanford graduate students with a little
> search engine called Yahoo. When Sequoia took the company public, Moritz
> firmly established himself as a Sand Hill Road samurai with the vision
> to know what's around the next corner. An ardent believer in his firm's
> strong hands-on approach to backing companies, Moritz was once heard to
> growl, when he was congratulated on the yearlong success of a CEO
> Sequoia had recruited, "The jury's still out!"
> JOHN MUMFORD Crosspoint Venture Partners
> What nobody knows: Has a strong passion for helping Christian children's
> ministries, such as Young Life
> Achilles' heel: "As a former entrepreneur, I get caught up in the
> excitement and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs."
> Last deal: Petrocosm
> Most famous deal: Ariba
> Biggest mistake: Passed up opportunity to be original investor in i2
> Corporation
> Number of company board seats: 14
> Bob Kagle may have gotten richer on the Ariba deal, but it was Mumford's
> baby. He incubated the company in his office in 1996 and remains its
> chairman. That's a classic example of Mumford's work. This VC veteran is
> widely admired for his commitment to the entrepreneurs in whom he
> invests. Our survey subjects rated him at the top in both technical
> knowledge on the red-hot B2B space and the support he gives to companies
> in crisis. The latter isn't just Christian charity coming from this
> deeply religious man but the empathy of a fellow entrepreneur: Mumford
> joined his first startup when still an undergraduate and founded
> Crosspoint in 1970 while still in business school at Stanford
> University.
> But Mumford's unusual combination of commitment and propriety has its
> side effects. For example, Crosspoint completely missed the e-commerce
> boom because Mumford, while he understood the technology, couldn't
> figure out how those companies could make a profit. Silly him. As he
> recalls, "We realized you couldn't make any money, but we forgot you
> could sell stock to the public and make money."
> It's that kind of responsible attitude that makes John Mumford admired,
> but rarely emulated, in this go-go age.
> ANDY RACHLEFF Benchmark Capital
> What nobody knows: He's a lot younger than he sounds.
> Achilles' heel: "I can be too negative on entrepreneurs who are
> promoters."
> Last deal: Loudcloud
> Most famous deal: Equinox
> Biggest mistake: Investing in Ipsilon Networks, which created the level
> III switching market but was not able to deliver a product that took
> advantage of that
> Number of company board seats: 7
> David Beirne may be the superstar at Benchmark, the man who gets all the
> publicity, but, as one source says, "It's Andy who gets the job done."
> Looking 30 but sounding 60, the 41-year-old Rachleff spent a decade at
> Merrill Pickard before cofounding Benchmark in May 1995. Learning from a
> couple of juicy mistakes (Pointcast and Ipsilon Networks), he's
> definitely wiser than his years and has amassed an impressive sum
> of investments, from AOL to, most recently, Marc Andreessen's
> Loudcloud. His most famous deal was probably CashFlow, though Rachleff
> claims to be most proud of his recent work for Equinox, a still-private
> company that is building an Internet bandwidth business exchange.
> Even though he keeps a low profile, it's easy to see why the industry
> insiders we polled suggested him for our list. One obvious factor is the
> awe and respect with which Benchmark is held. Another is that Rachleff
> himself is simply a solid, reliable, no-flash sort of guy. The last is
> refreshing in this age of VC superstardom. But it may also be a fatal
> flaw: These days, low-key VCs don't always see the best deals. And even
> when Andy does see them, he admits to being turned off by egregious
> dot-com hustlers. He must be turned off a lot these days.
> GARY RIESCHEL Softbank Venture Capital
> What nobody knows: Majored in biology and was a very good researcher
> Achilles' heel: "I'm too easily excited."
> Last deal: SportsBrain
> Most famous deal: USWeb
> Biggest mistake: Passing on Inktomi
> Number of company board seats: 19
> With his work shirts, sandals, and half beard, Rieschel looks less like
> a high-powered VC than the Northwest kid he once was. The key to
> Rieschel is his CV: from wrapping chains around logs at an Oregon lumber
> mill to being a bohemian at Reed College, then becoming a buttoned-down
> student at Harvard Business School. Rieschel trained as a research
> biologist, but corporate Darwinism proved far more exciting. As head man
> at Softbank's venture capital wing, he may be the busiest VC in the
> industry: In just two years, Rieschel and his firm have sunk about $2
> billion in approximately 100 new companies. That doesn't leave much time
> for contemplation, but then, maybe Rieschel doesn't need it. The former
> Intel QA director knows a quality startup when he sees one--it took only
> 20 minutes for his team to put $9 million in E-Trade, three hours to
> sink $106 million in Yahoo.
> Our sources credit Rieschel with a deep knowledge of the Internet
> service industry, as well as being a fair negotiator. "He's a win-win
> kind of guy," says one observer. Though Rieschel himself admits that he
> has a tendency to get too emotionally involved with his companies
> ("usually a path to certain disaster," he admits), he has one other
> passion as well: He is one of Silicon Valley's most obsessive
> oenophiles. His personal wine collection contains 2,000 bottles.
> HEIDI ROIZEN Softbank Venture Capital
> What nobody knows: She was a professional puppeteer in high school.
> Achilles' heel: "I have a hard time saying no to entrepreneurs who want
> to pitch a plan, yet, with over 50 'incoming' a week, I have to!"
> Last deal: ReelPlay.com
> Most famous deal: Preview Systems
> Biggest mistake: Picking a company based on market/technology and
> overlooking the quality of the team
> Number of company board seats: 7
> Who would have guessed that the unofficial doyenne of Silicon Valley's
> tech-elite party scene would make our list of top VCs? Yes, it's a bit
> of a long shot since she's been a venture capitalist only since May
> 1999. But for Heidi Roizen, a former cheerleader and CEO, the transition
> from heading developer relations at Apple to becoming a VC was as
> natural as getting together with a few friends for drinks. "If you
> didn't know Heidi, you'd think she throws a lot of good parties and she
> knows a lot of good people," says Ellen Levy, who landed a venture
> capital job at Softbank last year, thanks in part to introductions by
> Roizen. "But then you listen to her go through a set of problems or
> evaluate an opportunity, and she's razor sharp."
> Some may question Roizen's inclusion on this list, since she has yet to
> prove her mettle as a VC. Still, even critics laud her experience on the
> operational end of business. Part brainy businesswoman, part social
> butterfly, the 42-year-old Softbank managing partner made her millions
> in 1994 when she sold T/Maker, the software company she launched in 1983
> while still in business school at Stanford University. Roizen has
> fashioned herself as a "mentor capitalist"--acting as both an adviser
> and a shoulder to cry on for neophyte CEOs at a smattering of startups,
> including SoftBook Press and Garage.com.
> Roizen's modus operandi involves conducting business meetings on the
> treadmill and scheduling tete-a-tetes with entrepreneurs in the foothills
> behind Stanford. A bona fide Friend of Bill, Roizen is said to be one of
> the few people who have managed to be friends both with Microsoft's top
> dog and his arch rival, Sun Microsystems' Scott McNealy. "I'm a people
> person," Roizen says, adding, "Do deals with the people you want to work
> with, and the success will follow."
> DON VALENTINE Sequoia Capital
> What nobody knows: He's a movie buff.
> Achilles' heel: His reputation for not caring about people, just markets
> Last deal: DiCarta
> Most famous deal: Cisco
> Biggest mistake: "Too often we distributed shares in one of our great
> companies [i.e., Cisco] too early."
> Number of company board seats: 5
> The man with the Golden Gut, Valentine was a veteran VC when John Doerr
> was still a young marketing goober at Intel. Valentine's skills were
> forged in the founding flame of Silicon Valley: Fairchild Semiconductor,
> where, in the company of geniuses and maniacs, he was the toughest (and
> best-dressed) sumbitch around. In the 28 years since he founded Sequoia,
> it's been a Valley rite of passage to carry your business plan into this
> bear's lair and come out alive.
> No VC on the planet has Valentine's resume: National Semiconductor
> (which he cofounded), Apple (though history forgets that he bailed
> early), Atari, LSI Logic, Oracle, Microchip Technology, C Cube, and
> Network Appliance. That's at least four high tech revolutions. And then,
> of course, there is his masterpiece: Cisco, the giant he discovered,
> nurtured, and then took quickly public in a breathtaking move that set
> the standard for VCs ever since. His $2.3 million investment in Cisco
> would be worth $166 billion today--probably the greatest venture capital
> play in high tech history. Nobody has ever claimed that Valentine is a
> friend of startup teams, or a great promoter, or a technical genius. But
> most would agree that no one has ever had such a perfect sense of when a
> technology and a market are about to collide. "He's a legend because
> he's got such great instincts," says one source.
> Those instincts, honed by 40 years in tech, also make Valentine sui
> generis. Many younger VCs respect him, but few attempt to be like him.
> Valentine is just too tough, too independent, and too prickly to ever be
> a grand old man like Arthur Rock or Eugene Kleiner. And yet the new
> world of venture capital, with its hard-nosed dealings and internecine
> wars, is surely more Valentine's child than that of any of his more
> softhearted peers.
> ANN WINBLAD Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
> What nobody knows: "My childhood nickname was 'Tecky,' a Swedish name
> from my grandfather."
> Achilles' heel: Not managing time management
> Last deal: Intacct
> Most famous deal: Arbor Software
> Biggest mistake: Entering markets that don't exist. Slate, a pen-based
> software company, was a $2 million mistake.
> Number of company board seats: 9
> Even her childhood nickname, "Tecky," was an augury of what was to come.
> Once known primarily as a journalist, software company founder, and Bill
> Gates' vacation pal, Winblad (who is a columnist for this magazine) has
> proven herself among the most capable--and, as our survey found, most
> admired--VCs in the industry. Her rare high school combination of
> cheerleader and valedictorian seems to have made Winblad uniquely suited
> to Hummer Winblad's greatest strength: taking on small, early-round
> startup teams and teaching them to act like real companies. She isn't
> short on guts, either. When she and John Hummer (a former center for the
> Seattle Supersonics) founded HumWin in 1989, their $35 million
> software-company-only fund was met with skepticism. After all, how could
> anybody make money with code? Well, just ask Wind River, Berkeley
> Systems, and Powersoft, some of Winblad's biggest plays of the era. Her
> current hits? Liquid Audio, Net Perceptions, and MyPrimeTime. Though
> some entrepreneurs complain that her high profile--as one of the first
> women in the VC industry--saps her effectiveness, Winblad is quick to
> point out that she pushes her portfolio companies in virtually every TV
> and press interview.
> GEOFF YANG Redpoint Ventures
> What nobody knows: He's a TV addict, watching a lot of sports, also The
> Sopranos, Sex in the City, ER, and West Wing
> Achilles' heel: "I don't like to say no."
> Last deal: Octopus.com
> Most famous deal: Excite (now Excite@Home)
> Biggest mistake: "Hiring a CEO candidate based on reference checks. I
> had to fire him."
> Number of company board seats: 12
> He may have passed on E-Trade, but he hasn't missed much else--major
> investments include home runs such as Excite and Foundry Networks, and
> triples like Ask Jeeves and TiVo. Yang is seen as an exemplar of the new
> breed of VC, combining traditional attributes, such as loyalty, with
> more than a little modern self promotion. "Entrepreneurs love doing
> deals with Geoff because he's very loyal," says a source. "He's a good
> up-front guy to deal with, always there when you need him." Yang is also
> among the most visible of the younger generation of VCs.
> Though he claims to hate saying no, Yang is known in the industry as a
> man of action. Says an observer, "He's always willing to sit on the
> board and do some of the really hard work." That has led to concerns
> about Yang being overextended. It also means that he often plays the bad
> guy. When a board has to can the CEO or change the company's direction,
> it's usually Yang who wields the ax.
> Methodology: Ratings for the VCs were based on the following criteria:
> industry knowledge, ability to help with recruiting, involvement with
> company, fairness as a negotiator, honesty, openness to new ideas,
> ability to provide support during a crisis, and accessibility.


If all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be content to take their own and depart. -- Socrates

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