Forbes has released the latest edition of its Midas List ranking of the top investors, and it’s full of familiar faces. The top four spots are literally identical to last year’s list, with Google backers John Doerr (of Kleiner Perkins), Michael Moritz (of Sequoia Capital), Ram Shiram (of Sherpalo), and Stanford Prof. David Cheriton holding on to their titles as the titans of venture capital. The lack of movement isn’t too surprising, since VCs didn’t exactly make a lot of money in 2008 — in fact, it was the worst year for venture liquidity since 2003.
Moving down the list a bit, who were the big winners and losers? Sigma Partners‘ Gregory Gretsch got on at number 19, largely by investing in EqualLogic, which was last year’s biggest exit with a $1.4 billion acquisition from Dell. Meanwhile, famed venture capitalist Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, who was down at number 70 last year, has dropped off altogether. Forbes’ calculations are based on investors’ last five years of returns, so expect to see bigger shifts next year, when Google’s IPO falls beyond that horizon. Doerr, for example, had literally no exits in 2008. (He edged past Moritz on last year’s list due to Microsoft’s $800 million acquisition of Tellme.)
Perhaps more interesting than movement up and down the list is the overall doom-and-gloom tone of the articles. The main piece focuses on a shift away from big return, early-stage investing, while Rebecca Buckman has an article provocatively titled “Venture capital’s coming collapse.” But even these pieces reiterate themes we’ve hit on in the past, most notably last November when VentureBeat Editor Matt Marshall declared, “The VC model is broken.” Matt expressed concern about the rush to private equity and predicted that the current downturn could cause a much bigger shakeout in the venture industry than the last one.
Now that you’re thoroughly depressed, here’s the Midas Top 10:
1. John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
2. Michael Moritz, Sequoia Capital
3. Ram Shriram, Sherpalo
4. David Cheriton, Stanford University
5. William Ford, General Atlantic
6. Ronald Conway, angel investor
7. Andreas von Bechtolsheim, Arista Networks
8. Aneel Bhusri, Greylock Partners
9. James Perry, Madison Dearborn Partners
10. Thomas Ng, Granite Global Ventures
And you can see the full list here.