A Better Way To Rank Venture Capitalists

Photograph by Lauren Nicole — Getty Images

For years I’ve complained about rankings of venture capitalists, most notably the Forbes Midas List. Not because I’m anti-rankings (I’m not) but, rather, because I’ve felt that they often include too many qualitative criteria, pay too little attention to deal attribution and ignored exits that are cash-small but multiple-big.

Readers have generally nodded their collective head in agreement, and then asked if I was going to try to build a better mousetrap.

The short answer is no. The longer answer is yes.

For over a year I’ve been advising what today is being launched as Sunesis, which is a Greek word for many diverse points of information joining together for new understanding. The goal is to produce rankings of venture capitalists and growth equity investors based exclusively on liquidity (i.e., no paper unicorns), in order to provide both the VC and LP communities with a better idea of who is actually driving top returns (we expect some of the results to surprise both groups).

The project head is Greg Bohlen, a longtime fund-of-funds manager who is doing this as separate from his day job as co-founding partner of Union Grove Venture Partners. The code was written by a software company called Lightspeed that engineers for HIPAA compliance (i.e., it’s secure), Crunchbase has provided database help and the University of North Carolina is aiding on data management.

Here’s how it works: We’re asking VCs (of all levels) to create free accounts at Sunes.is and input certain information about deals you have led (including exited transactions). These specific details will not be disclosed either to other Sunesis members nor to outsiders like me. It’s confidential (again, I have zero back-end access). Instead, the data will be inserted into an algorithm that ultimately will spit out a ranking, which can be cut various ways (industry, geography, stage of investment, cash return vs. multiple, etc.).

If there is conflicting information entered, the Sunesis team will reach out to other sources for clarity (including entrepreneurs). It’s also important to note that you can “share” deals with your partners (e.g., 50/50 attribution, etc.).

In exchange for entering your information, you’ll be able to access ranking data for yourself and other members of your firm. Once we collect enough data, I’ll be publishing a select group of top-level rankings.

Venture capital is one of very few investment management industries without an accurate accounting of the best professionals. I’m hoping we can change that. Please help by going to http://Sunes.is, sign up for an account and enter your information.

If you have any questions, please let me know or reach out to the Sunesis team via the website

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