Forbes today published its Midas List, an annual recounting of who’s who among the top investors around the globe.
We took a look at the tech sector, and of the top 100 investors chosen to be listed, only five were women.
Giving wide berth to the complicated sociological discussion of why only five women appear on the Midas List for tech investment, let’s take a look at these remarkable ladies and their careers.
- Firm: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
- Education: MBA, Cornell University; B.A., DePauw University.
- Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 42
Mary Meeker was a Morgan Stanley analyst — and quite a good one — until January 2011, when she came to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. But her Internet street cred stretches back deep into the dotcom era.
Meeker’s claims to fame start with “The Internet Report,” a Morgan Stanley publication from 1995 that became a sort of bible for dotcom investors. Dubbed “Queen of the Net” in 1998 by Barron’s, Meeker was part of the Morgan Stanley team that oversaw Google’s 2004 IPO. In 2006, a writer for Fortune said Meeker was “absolutely first rate when it comes to spotting big-picture trends before they come into focus,” and in 2010, the magazine called her one of the ten smartest people in the technology industry.
Meeker is doubtless one of the strongest and smartest people in tech, but her biggest strength in her career might be her unrelenting focus on data. Her background as an analyst gives her work a no-nonsense focus on numbers. Since, as her research has shown over the decades, around 5 percent of tech companies create around 90 percent of the industry’s wealth, she looks at the balance sheet first, market opportunities second, and management teams third.
Recommended: Text and audio from Meeker’s 2001 speech at her alma mater; The Internet Report that started it all.
- Firm: DCM
- Education: M.A., Johns Hopkins; B.A., University of Maryland
- Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 76
This is Ms. Lu’s first time on the Midas List, but she’s got quite a history in finance and investment banking.
With an education from top schools in the U.S., Lu spent time at Goldman Sachs’ New York office starting in 1996. She consulted top-shelf clients such as Intel, Lenovo, Palm, and Yahoo on matters of privatization restructuring, corporate finance, and mergers and acquisitions.
With this experience, Lu transitioned from investment banking into the world of venture capital, coming to DCM in 2003. DCM is a global firm with deep roots in Asian markets as well as a presence in Silicon Valley, and Lu has been a big part of the firm’s successes in recent years. She led DCM’s investment in VanceInfo, which went public in 2007 and now has a market cap of $550 million. Lu also led the firm’s investment in BitAuto, which went public in 2010 and now has a $182 million market cap.
Her most impressive bid, however, was on groundbreaking e-commerce company Dangdang. The company was founded by Peggy Yu (herself one of the most interesting and successful women in China). Dangdang had its IPO just two years ago and currently has a market cap around $838 million.
Lu serves on the boards of Dangdang and several other DCM portfolio companies; as a result, she looms large in the Chinese Internet scene. On her LinkedIn profile, Lu said she’s always on the lookout for “ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build lasting companies that have impact on our society.”
Recommended: Sarah Lacy’s two interviews with Ruby Lu in 2010, Part 1 and Part 2.
Theresia Gouw Ranzetta
- Firm: Accel Partners
- Education: MBA, Stanford University; BS, Brown University
- Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 92
Ranzetta is an amazingly well-rounded woman — she has honest-to-goodness experience as a founder, she’s not shy when it comes to media, and she knows how to make a good bet on tech startups.
At Accel, she’s been active on the e-commerce side and the security side. She’s on the boards of companies as diverse as TRUSTe and ModCloth. She was also a big part of Accel’s investment in Walmart.com. But her biggest claims to fame are a string of wildly successful exits: IPOs and acquisitions that have made headlines over the past few years.
Of her experience as a woman in the male-dominated tech sphere, she wrote two years ago:
I have been the only non-white, non-native person in my small-town high school and the only woman in the engineering lab, the GM auto plant and the executive boardroom. And, like many women, I’ve had my abilities questioned, my looks appraised, my senses assaulted (a business lunch at a topless bar — but don’t get me started) and my biological clock monitored…
[But Silicon] Valley is, first and foremost, a meritocracy of talent and performance. The culture rewards results, bold new ideas and risk-taking, no matter the source.
Recommended: A video of one of Ranzetta’s panels, Venture Capital in the Valley: Past, Present & Future; her travel tips for CNN Money; her op-ed for Fortune.
- Firm: GGV Capital
- Education: MBA, Northwestern University; ME and B.Sc., Cornell University
- Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 94
Jenny Lee grew up in Singapore, traveled to the U.S. for a world-class education, then returned to Singapore in 1995 as part of a pact she’d made with her native country: The state sponsored her education on the condition that she return and work at a state-owned company.
Thus, her career began with her working on the technology of fighter jets at Singapore Technologies Aerospace. While on the job, she took the many opportunities to talk shop with “the guys,” delving into the technologies and trends of the moment with pilots and engineers.
After a second round of education in the U.S., Lee took a new job, this time working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong. She later transitioned to doing venture capital at JAFCO Asia, and she now holds a powerful position, leading many of GGV’s most successful investments across the Asian and North American continents.
Lee is known as a fighter, a workaholic, and a gadget fiend; and she’s always got her eyes open to opportunities in the market and in new business models.
Recommended: An in-depth interview [PDF]; an article she wrote about tech “going to China”.
- Firm: Quaker Partners
- Education: MBA, Cornell University; BSc, St. Joseph University
- Position on the Forbes Tech Midas List: 97
Adele Oliva has ample experience and deep roots in biotech and pharmaceutical investment, but she didn’t know this is where her interests would lie until the early 1990s during her tenure at Cornell.
“While at business school, I was not sure what industry I was going to go into,” she said during a panel, talking about her transition from a bachelor’s in finance to her healthcare-focused MBA. “So I sat through everything from Exxon to Mobile to PNG to consulting and chose healthcare as where I want to spend the next 40 to 50 years. I’m thrilled with the decision.”
She put in some time in marketing and business positions in her chosen industry, then transitioned to investment. Some of her portfolio companies have seen notable exits in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and her current investments include EKR Therapeutics, NB Therapeutics, NovaSom and Semprae Laboratories.
“I sit in board meetings everyday where I’m the only woman,” she said at a Cornell event in 2009. “There are still many board meetings where there are no women. Most of the people I work with and are exposed to are white men — and they are very talented, but there is the benefit of diversity in ideas, in contacts, and networks.”
Recommended: interview about the value of MBA programs; clips and transcripts from a panel on enterprising women.
Top image courtesy of wavebreakmedia ltd, Shutterstock