Women are still a minority among the most successful venture capital investors, but their presence is growing. Twelve female investors made it onto this year’s Midas List, a record for the annual ranking and an increase from nine women a year ago. The cohort includes three female newcomers, one of whom, Kathy Xu, is the highest-ranked woman on the list.
The Midas List ranks venture capital investors based on the number and dollar size of exits and highly-valued private companies over the past five years, with a premium on bolder early-stage deals. Produced in partnership with TrueBridge Capital Partners, the ranking counts only exits (public offerings or acquisitions) that are over $200 million or private investment rounds valuing companies at $400 million or more.
Newcomer Kathy Xu, founder and partner at Shanghai-based firm Capital Today, joins the list at the very lofty No. 6 spot, thanks largely to her prescient bet on JD.com, China’s No. 2 online retailer, plus investments in Chinese gaming company NetEase and discount e-commerce site Meituan-Dianping. Capital Today was just a year old when Xu bet on JD.com as its only Series A investor.
After the e-commerce site went public in 2015, she had a career-making win. Her $18 million check returned $2.9 billion to Capital Today and its investors. Xu began her career as a bank clerk in China, then worked at Hong Kong investment firm Peregrine and Baring Private Equity Asia before founding Capital Today in 2005.
Xu dethroned Mary Meeker, who was the highest-ranked female on the Midas List for the past three years. Meeker lands at No. 8 this year. After eight years at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Meeker left the firm in late 2018 to start a new fund with former members of Kleiner Perkins’ digital growth team. Her new fund, Bond Capital, launched in January 2019 and focuses on high-growth Internet companies.
Her Kleiner Perkins portfolio had five exits since our last Midas List: Turkish commerce site Trendyol (acquired by Alibaba in June 2018), DocuSign (IPO in April 2018), Spotify (direct listing in April 2018) and Ring (acquired by Amazon in March 2018).
Meeker is known in the tech world for her annual Internet Trends Report and was a managing director at Morgan Stanley covering public technology companies before she shifted into venture capital in 2010.
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Beth Seidenberg, No. 59 on the list, also recently started her own venture investing firm. After 14 years at Kleiner Perkins, Seidenberg, a physician by training, founded Los Angeles-based Westlake Village BioPartners, which plans to focus on early-stage firms and to incubate life sciences companies.
The firm launched its first fund with $320 million of committed capital in September 2018. During her tenure at Kleiner Perkins, the ex-chief medical officer at Amgen incubated eight companies and made big deals including Flexus Biosciences, which was acquired by pharma giant Bristol-Myers Squibb in 2015 for $1.25 billion. Another notable exit: cancer drug maker Tesaro, which was acquired by GlaxoSmithKline for $5.1 billion in 2018.
Two other newcomer female VCs debuted on our list. Nisa Leung, managing partner at Qiming Venture Partners, ranked at No. 54, leads the Chinese firm’s health care investments.
Notable deals include the acquisition of cell analysis instrument company ACEA Biosciences by Agilent for $250 million in November 2018, and the September 2017 initial public offering of drug developer Zai Lab. Before joining Qiming, Leung cofounded Biomedic Holdings, which invested in medical devices, pharmaceuticals and health care services.
Outside of her venture role, Leung is a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School and a member of the government of Hong Kong’s Committee on Innovation and Technology Development and Re-Industrialization.
Another newcomer: Anna Fang, partner and CEO of ZhenFund, an early-stage China-based firm that has backed more than 600 startups. Fang, who oversees the fund’s investments, portfolio management and operations, secured the No. 89 rank thanks in part to her investments in lifestyle and shopping site Xiaohongshu, also known as Red, which said it had more than 200 million users as of January 2019. Fang, who is based in Beijing, started her career as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan in New York covering consumer and retail companies.
In addition to Meeker and Seidenberg, six other women who were on last year’s Midas List are back again, including Jenny Lee, founder and partner at GGV Capital (No. 19); Ann Miura-Ko, cofounder and partner at Floodgate Fund (No. 57); Theresia Gouw, cofounder and partner at Aspect Ventures (No.65); Rebecca Lynn, partner at Canvas (No. 80); Aileen Lee, founder and partner at Cowboy Ventures (No. 82); Sonali DeRycker, partner at Accel Partners in London (No.83); and Kirsten Green, founder and managing partner at Forerunner Ventures (No. 95).
Two of these women jumped up quite a bit in the ranks since last year. Jenny Lee of GGV Capital rocketed up to No. 19 from No. 74 a year ago thanks to five initial public offerings in the past year: credit card service startup 51credit in July 2018, language platform LingoChamp in September 2018, scooter startup Niu in October 2018 and smartphone maker Xiaomi in July 2018, a personal investment.
Lee, who has been a Midas lister since 2012, also led GGV’s fundraising efforts last year, culminating in $1.88 billion of new funds in October 2018. Twenty of her investments are valued at more than $400 million and seven have reached unicorn or “megaunicorn” (multi-billion dollar) valuations.
Gouw, cofounder and managing partner of Aspect Ventures, moved up to No. 65 from No. 89 a year ago following two notable acquisitions of companies she’d backed: Slack picked up smart email assistant Astro in September 2018, and Airbnb said it would acquire Hotel Tonight in March 2019 for $465 million. Gouw tells Forbes this year that she continues to focus on investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning “despite all the hype.”
An Imbalanced Industry
It’s common knowledge that the venture capital industry and the startup and investment ecosystem skew heavily male. Globally, only about 17% of investment-level positions at venture firms are held by women, according to PitchBook data this year.
What’s more, the overall surge in venture capital funding in recent years hasn’t benefited female founders at the same rate as male founders, according to PitchBook. The total amount of capital going to female U.S. founders is increasing— barely.
Companies founded solely by women claimed 2.3% of total capital invested in venture-backed startups in the U.S. in the last year, according to PitchBook in February, up from 2.2% a year earlier. Not much, but an uptick of 0.1% is better than a move in the opposite direction.
-Kathleen Chaykowski; Forbes Staff
These Are The Biggest Givers On The Forbes 400
This has been a year of record-setting in billionaire philanthropy. In September, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, owners of POM Wonderful and Fiji Water, pledged $750 million to the California Institute of Technology for environmental sustainability research.
In June, Blackstone cofounder Stephen Schwarzman donated $189 million to the University of Oxford—the largest single gift to the school since the Renaissance—to fund its work on humanities. The same month, Broadcom billionaire Henry Samueli pledged $100 million to UCLA’s engineering school, the largest gift ever to the department.
Forbes tracks gifts and pledges like these as part of our ongoing coverage of charitable giving by the country’s richest people.
For the second year in a row, Forbes tracked the philanthropic giving of the richest 400 individuals in the U.S. and gave each member of The Forbes 400 list a philanthropy score. The score ranged from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most philanthropic. List members for whom we could find no charitable giving information received an N.A. (not available).
Though the number of the biggest givers—those who scored a 5—stayed flat in 2019, those who received scores of 4 and 3 increased compared with a year ago.
The changes reflect two things: The country’s richest have gotten somewhat more generous, and Forbes had more information to work with this year. Some billionaires were willing to share information on charitable giving for the 2019 list who didn’t in 2018. As a result, four dozen people got higher scores this year than a year ago.
This year, Warren Buffett led the list of top givers with $38.8 billion in lifetime giving, which is 32% of his net worth, and earned the top score of 5.
He was followed by last year’s biggest giver, Bill Gates, who has donated $38.5 billion so far. Two people who scored a 5 last year—Paul Allen and David Koch—passed away.
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Billionaires like DreamWorks Pictures founder David Geffen and WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton moved up to the top score after each scored a 4 last year. According to the latest tax filings, Geffen gave $38 million to his foundation in 2017, which brought his lifetime giving to about $1 billion.
Acton and his wife Tegan, on the other hand, have been expanding their philanthropic network, Wildcard Giving, which they founded in 2014 after Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook. The couple has given away more than $1 billion to charitable causes.
Forty-one billionaires, including Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings and software billionaire Philip “Terry” Ragon, got higher scores this year than last year. Some, like Stephen Schwarzman, earned a higher score thanks to giving in the past year.
Others scored higher because we were able to find more information about their lifetime giving, through new public documents or details provided to us by Forbes 400 members or their spokespeople. In September, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that B.
Wayne Hughes, cofounder of self-storage behemoth Public Storage, had anonymously donated about $400 million to the University of Southern California in his lifetime. Hughes, who scored a 2 last year, jumped up to a 4.
Private equity tycoon Robert F. Smith’s pledge in May to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College generated lots of headlines but did not end up changing his score because the gift wasn’t big enough to move him up a notch. In many cases, fortunes grew faster than lifetime philanthropic giving.
To come up with the information on which we based our score, Forbes reporters looked at tax filings for charitable foundations, annual statements, SEC filings and news about new gifts. When possible, we interviewed Forbes 400 members and executives from their foundations. Some Forbes 400 members said they have chosen to donate anonymously, citing religious or privacy concerns.
Our score is based on total lifetime giving and what percent of their fortune members had given away. We weighted these two factors equally. Some individuals were then bumped up or down based on several other factors, including whether they had signed the Giving Pledge, whether they had pledged significant donations, how personally involved they were in their charitable giving, and how quickly and effectively their private foundations distributed dollars. We didn’t count pledges or announced gifts that have yet to be paid out, but we took commitment to philanthropy—or lack thereof—into account.
Forbes has been tracking the wealth of the richest Americans since 1982. “Some of [the members] told us to drop dead,” James Michaels, veteran editor of Forbes, told the New York Times in a 1982 story about the list’s debut. “They said they wanted no part of it, that they’d sue us.
This happens in reporting.” At times, our reporting on philanthropic giving received a similar response. “The new philanthropy ranking is fundamentally flawed, in that it is biased in favor of those who make their gifts widely known, and against donors who choose to make their charitable contributions anonymously,” one current Forbes 400 member (who did not wish to be named) wrote to us last year.
-Deniz Çam; Forbes
Mastercard: Diligent About Digital In Africa
Mastercard knows only too well that technology can drive inclusive financial growth with simpler and more efficient ways to do business and life. And Raghu Malhotra, the man spearheading this trajectory in Africa, is also focused on social progress.
In many ways, Raghu Malhotra is like the brand he works for, leaving his footprints in different parts of the world, and in some cases, the most unlikely corners.
On a scorching summer’s day in June 2016, Malhotra traveled 100km east of Jordan’s capital city Amman, to a camp with white tents named Azraq built for the refugees of the Syrian Civil War.
In the desert terrain and hot, windy conditions, people had to queue for hours on end for plates of food handed out of visiting trucks. But some of them, displaced and homeless overnight, expressed their gratitude to Malhotra, President for Mastercard in the Middle East and Africa (MEA).
Mastercard, a technology company that engages in the global payments industry, had distributed e-cards, as part of a global collaboration with the World Food Programme, to the refugees that they could now use to purchase food and other supplies from local shops.
“I spoke to the people myself and saw what their lives were… Even those who were doctors with their families and were displaced… They said to me ‘you have restored dignity to our lives; you have no idea how demeaning it is to queue up to be given food’… We actually digitized how that subsidy for food was given. Some of these things go beyond economics,” says Malhotra.
That very simply sums up Malhotra’s mandate for Africa as well.
The New York-headquartered Mastercard, ranked No. 43 on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands, with a market cap of $247 billion, which connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and business, is fostering key partnerships across the African continent to help drive inclusive economic growth.
The idea, Malhotra says, “is to get our global skill-set to operate in its most efficient form in every local economy, at the same time, we must do good, and it must be sustainable.”
He calls Africa the next bastion of growth for various industries.
“As a company, we have stated we are going to get 500 million new consumers globally. And Africa plays a big part of that whole story… We want to be an integral part of various economies here,” says the man responsible for driving Mastercard’s global strategy across 69 markets.
“It probably took us over 20 years to get the first 50 million new consumers, in my part of the world, which is the Middle East and Africa (MEA). It took us probably five years to get the next 50 million, and last year alone, we put over 50 million consumers [in the formal economy] in MEA. That is part of our whole African story, so this is just not rhetoric; we are actually building our business on that basis.”
Home to four of the world’s top five fastest-growing economies, Africa has the fastest urbanization rate in the world, the youngest population, and a rapidly expanding middle class predicted to increase business and consumer spending.
It’s a continent of opportunity for global players like Mastercard with an eye on the potential of a booming consumer base and small and medium entrepreneurs, most of whom are still not a part of the formal economy. A large proportion of Africa is still unbanked. There is enough business opportunity in offering people digital tools so they can lead respectable financial lives.
But it is in knowing that financial inclusion is not just about technology, but more about solving bigger problems, as the World Bank says in its overview for Africa: “Achieving higher inclusive growth and reaping the benefits of a demographic dividend will require going beyond a business as usual approach to development for Africa. Going forward, it is imperative that the region undertakes the following four actions, concurrently: invest more and better in its people; leapfrog into the 21st century digital and high-tech economy; harness private finance and know-how to fill the infrastructure gap; and build resilience to fragility and conflict and climate change.”
And in order to enable financial access, Mastercard has a balanced strategy in place, with the right partnerships for inclusive growth on the continent, Malhotra tells FORBES AFRICA.
“Every emerging market has different segments of people and you need to get the right product for the right segment. What we do is a balanced growth strategy across the continent based on timing, opportunity etc… Of course, because the bottom of the pyramid is much bigger, I think what we need is to adapt things differently; that is where the inclusive growth story comes from. That is where the opportunity is, but there is a second part to it…” And that, he summarizes, is advancing sustainable growth, doing good and bringing more transparency and efficiency.
The new pragmatic dispensation of governments in Africa towards ideas, technology and innovation has surely helped open up the stage to newer segment-driven products, especially as Africa already has such global laurels as Safaricom’s mobile money transfer and micro-financing service M-Pesa that took financial access to a whole new level. Also, sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.
Malhotra says he finds African governments consistent in how they are rolling out their digital vision, and in trying to collaborate towards creating better ecosystems for their economies, though each is unique with its own dossier of problems.
“When I speak to various governments around Africa, I see a commonality of what their needs are and I also see a commonality in how they are trying to respond. So I think a lot of them realize running cash economies is a very inefficient way of doing things… Also, the consumer base is much more open to new technology because there is no bedded infrastructure or legacy infrastructure. I think where governments need to start thinking a bit more is how much do they want to do completely on their own.”
Part of this transformation on the path to financial progress is alleviating the burden of cash. Cash still accounts for most consumer payments in Africa. Mastercard, which started out as synonymous with credit cards, continues its efforts to convert consumers from cash to electronic transactions, and move beyond plastic.
Business Intelligence For Dummies
Sorry, Ph.D.s! Dean Stoecker’s analytics software, Alteryx, can turn almost anyone into a data scientist. And it’s turned him into a billionaire
Sun Tzu meets software in mid-August at downtown Denver’s Crawford Hotel. The floors are terrazzo. The chandeliers are accented with gold. And Dean Stoecker, the CEO of data-science firm Alteryx, has summoned his executives for the annual strategy session he calls Bing Fa, after the Mandarin title of The Art of War. “Sun Tzu was all about how you conserve resources,” says Stoecker, 62. “How do you win a war without going into battle?”
Stoecker knows something about conserving resources. He cofounded Alteryx in 1997, when the data-science industry scarcely existed, and spent a decade growing the firm to a measly $10 million in annual revenue. “We had to wait for the market to catch up,” he says. As he waited, he kept the business lean, hiring slowly and forgoing outside investment until 2011. Then, as “big data” began eating the world, he raised $163 million before taking Alteryx public in 2017. The stock is up nearly 900% since, and Stoecker is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.
“People ask me, ‘Did you ever think it would get this big?’” he says. “And I say, ‘Yeah, I just never thought it would take this long.’ ”
Alteryx makes data science easy. Its simple, click-and-drop design lets anyone, from recent grads to emeritus chairmen, turn raw numbers into charts and graphics. It goes far beyond Excel. Plug in some numbers, select the desired operation—say data cleansing or linear regression—and presto.
There are applications in every industry. Coca-Cola uses Alteryx to help restaurants predict how much soda to order. Airlines use it to hedge the price of jet fuel. Banks use it to model derivatives. Data analysis “is the one skill that every human being has to have if they’re going to survive in this next generation,” says Stoecker. “More so than balancing a checkbook.”
Alteryx’s numbers support that forecast. The company, based in Irvine, California, generated $28 million in profit on $254 million in revenue in 2018, and Stoecker expects to hit $1 billion in annual sales by 2022.
Stoecker grew up the son of a tinkerer. His father built liquid nitrogen tanks for NASA before quitting his job to sell “pre-cut” vacation homes in Colorado. He made them himself. “It was literally just him nine months of the year, and he would cut wood for 50 buildings,” Stoecker recalls. As a teenager he joined his father, and by the time he arrived at the University of Colorado Boulder to study economics, he was able to pay his own way.
After graduating in 1979, Stoecker earned his M.B.A. from Pepperdine, then took a sales job in 1990 at Donnelley Marketing Information Services, a data company in Connecticut. There he met Libby Duane Adams, who worked in the firm’s Stamford office. Seven years later, the pair founded a data company of their own, which they cumbersomely named Spatial Re-Engineering Consultants. (A third cofounder, Ned Harding, joined around the same time; Stoecker, who came up with the idea, took the lion’s share of the equity.)
SRC’s first customer, a junk mail company in Orange County, paid $125,000 to better target its coupons. “We were building big-data analytic cloud solutions back in 1998,” says Stoecker, when many businesses were barely online and terms like “cloud computing” were years away.
SRC was profitable from the outset. “We didn’t spend ahead of revenue. We didn’t hire ahead of revenue,” says Adams, sitting in a remodeled 1962 Volkswagen bus at Alteryx headquarters, theoretically a symbol of the company’s journey. “We never calculated burn rates. That was a big topic in the whole dot-com era. We were not running the business like a dot-com.”
In 2006, as part of a pivot away from one-off consulting gigs, SRC released software to let customers do the number-crunching themselves. They named the software Alteryx, a nerdy joke for changing two variables simultaneously: “Alter Y, X.” Stoecker made Alteryx the company name, too, in 2010.
The market was still small. To grow revenue, “we just kept raising the price of our platform,” Stoecker says. In the beginning, Alteryx sold its subscription-based software for $7,500 per user; by 2013 it was charging $55,000. The next year, as Stoecker felt demand growing, he slashed prices to $4,000. Volume made up for the lower rate. Today Alteryx has 5,300 customers. “We immediately went from averaging eight, nine or ten [new clients] a quarter to north of 250,” he says.
Although data mining and data analytics is a long-established field, encompassing a slew of startups as well as giants like Oracle and IBM, “we see almost no direct competition,” Stoecker insists.
“It’s a pretty wide-open field,” says Marshall Senk, a senior research analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading. “The choice is you buy a suite from Alteryx or you go buy 15 different products and try to figure out how to get them to work together.”
Inside Alteryx’s offices, Stoecker pauses in front of a time line depicting his first 22 years in business. “The good stuff hasn’t even occurred yet,” he says. “I’m going to need a way bigger wall.”
Cover Photograph by Ethan Pines for Forbes.
-Noah Kirsch; Forbes
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