Friday, February 6, 2009

Forbes Midas list: China counts

What's interesting about the Forbes Midas list, is the number of venture capital partners who rank tops even though their firms are having troubles in China.
John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers places first on the top 100 list while the firm's China practice is riding a wave of partner defections. It was Doerr who announced the firm's China expansoin at a press conference in Beijing during April 2007. Three partners have left KPCB China since then: Joe Zhou to form his own fund, David Su to join Matrix Partners and most recently, Ian Goh. That leaves Tina Ju, the highly capable venture partner, as the glue of the China operation. While she has had notable success with Chinese search engine Baidu and e-commerce site Alibaba, those were deals she invested in at her predecessor venture firms before teaming up with KPCB in April 2007. It's early days and the market has toughened, but KPCB China doesn't have a winner among its portfolio yet.
Not to pick on Kleiner. Sequoia Capital scores with four partners on the list, but that standing doesn't reflect the firm's turbulent time in China. Fan Zhang, a co-founder of the China shop, recently resigned. That came after his co-founder, Neil Shen, was sued by the Carlyle Group for “stealing” a deal from them.
Now comes Bessemer Venture Partners. The firm has six partners on the list, yet Bessemer just gave up in China. See my earlier posts on this subject.
I'm convinced that Forbes could use more China perspective in its selection process next year. I do credit Forbes for changing its methodology to reflect more recent deals of the venture partners. Still, the five-year window on the partners’ deals makes for some odd picks, and sometimes outdated ones too. Several venture capitalists I know in China show up as perennials when their deals seem ancient – at least in the fast-paced Chinese venture community.

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