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Start-ups

Sequoia China head Neil Shen tops Forbes’ global list of leading technology venture capitalists

2018 Midas List highlights growing power of Chinese start-ups, as 16 China-based or -born VCs make the 100-person list, the largest number ever

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 10:47pm

Hongkonger Neil Shen, head of Sequoia Capital China, tops this year’s Forbes’ 2018 Midas list, which ranks the world’s top 100 venture capitalists (VCs) who have made strong exits or notable investment deals involving technology start-ups.

He is joined in the top 10 by J.P. Gan, a managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners, who’s ranked eighth.

Shen, ranking 11th in 2017, is one of the three Sequoia Capital venture capitalists to make the Midas top 10 this year, and one of 16 China-based or China-born VCs to make the 100-person list, the largest number ever.

The other two Sequoia entires were Jim Goetz, a partner based in Menlo Park California, who held the top spot for the past four years but this year descended to third place, and Doug Leone, the managing partner who oversees the firm’s global operations, who ranked ninth.

Risk-taking and persistence make successful entrepreneurs, says Sequoia’s Shen

The Midas list is based on two primary yardsticks measured over the last five years: all exits, either through initial public offering (IPO) or merger and acquisition, valued at US$200 million each, and financing rounds in a private company that have valued the start-up at US$400 million and above.

To make it into the top 10, an investor needs 13 qualifying deals and eight unicorns – or start-ups valued at US$1 billion or above – in their portfolio.

Shen, who co-founded China’s leading online travel site Ctrip, has also invested in Alibaba, JD.com, and China’s leading online platform for food ordering and films booking platform Meituan Dianping.

Ranked 30th last year, J.P Gan, a managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners, is elevated to 8th, rocketing into the top 10 through investments in Chinese start-ups such as popular selfie-editing app Meitu, and Meituan-Dianping.


Meituan-Dianping snapped up China’s top bike-sharing company Mobike on Tuesday, in a deal that brings together two of the country’s biggest unicorns, both of which are backed by technology group Tencent.

It was valued at US$30 billion during its last financing round in October 2017, propelling it to the world’s fifth-most valuable unicorns, according to a unicorn tracker published by The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource.

Forbes said Shen’s rise to the top this year was bolstered by the exit of online lending platform Ppdai Group, which went public in November 2017 in New York after raising US$221 million through an IPO.

Gan began his VC career in 2000 at the Carlyle Group, where he was a founding member of the firm’s Asian venture fund in Hong Kong.

His firm Qiming has also invested in Xiaomi, China’s leading smartphone makers and application developer, whose listing is expected this year. Xiaomi was valued at US$46 billion at its last financing round in December 2014, the world’s third biggest unicorn.

China’s Meituan buys bike-sharing firm Mobike for US$2.7 billion in mobility push

Beijing-based Joy Capital founder Erhai Liu (62) returns to the list thanks to investments in Chinese transport start-ups such as bike-sharing start-up Mobike and electric vehicle start-up NIO. And there’s also a 24th spot for Xiao Ping “Bob” Xu of ZhenFund, who rose nearly 50 spots on this year’s list thanks to investments in companies including Meicai, a online marketplace for selling agricultural produce directly to restaurants that raised US$450 million in a series-E round in January.

Sequoia’s head of India, Shailendra Singh, has become the first Indian resident to make it onto the list of 100, ranking 37th. He has spent three years at Sequoia’s main Silicon Valley branch, and has invested in India for eight years before joining the firm.

With 79 venture capitals from the US, the growing Chinese contingent, three from the United Kingdom, two from Switzerland, and one each from Israel and India, Forbes said the 2018 top 100 list stands as its most international list over its 17 years’ publication.

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