Most Active VC Firms of the Aughts

Venture capitalists entered the decade on a dotcom high, and this week will end it on an exit-starved low. In between, they invested in over 16,000 U.S.-based companies.

What follows is a list of the 10 most active VC firms, based on our VentureXpert database (which, coincidentally, is being retired at year-end). The rankings are based on the number of U.S.-based companies in which a firm invested over the past decade — regardless of number of financing rounds. And, just as a reminder, putting lots of money out the door doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount that comes back in…

[slide title=”#1. INTEL CAPITAL”]
Intel Capital invested in 463 different companies in the aughts, over 722 reported financing rounds. The estimated amount of equity per company was $4.33 million.

[slide title=”#2. JPMORGAN PARTNERS”]
This is the only firm on our list not to actually exist anymore. It began the decade as Chase Capital Partners, changed its name after the JPM/Chase merger and eventually was split up into a pair of independent firms: Panorama Capital for the VC portfolio, and CCMP Capital for the later-stage/buyout portfolio. 

While still in the VC game, JPMP based 365 different portfolio companies over 510 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $6.47 million. 

NEA doesn’t top this list, but it was the VC firm that did more financing rounds than any other in the aughts. It also raised the most fund capital (expect that list later this week), and was one of the first U.S. VC firms to make a major push into Asia.

Overall, it backed 352 companies over the past decade. This included 850 financing rounds, with an estimated average company investment of $13.09 million.

[slide title=”#4. DRAPER FISHER JURVETSON”]
DFJ might have ranked a bit higher had we included non-U.S. deals, as the firm had significant footprints everywhere from Eastern Europe to India. And if we had included network affiliates, it probably would have topped Intel Capital.

As it is, however, DFJ is sitting strong at #4. It backed 270 U.S.-based companies last decade, over 679 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $5.58 million.

[slide title=”#5. SEQUOIA CAPITAL”]
If one were to poll industry observers, Sequoia would probably be considered the decade’s most successful VC firm. Huge exits like Google and YouTube, successful stage/geography diversification, LP selection domination and few high-profile defections. Only real slip-up was the stop/start asset management project, which still may find its sea legs.

The Valley-based firm backed 270 different U.S.-based companies over the past decade, with 495 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $8.31 million.

Probably the best-known firm on our list, and the one whose identity has probably changed the most since 2000. KPCB was, and is, a huge investor in IT and online end-user technologies (see its iPhone Fund). But the firm’s reputation today is now as a cleantech powerhouse, in large part thanks to the concentration conversion of John Doerr (just imagine if Vinod Khosla was still there).

KPCB backed 212 companies in the aughts, over 527 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $10.68 million (probably inflated by some huge cleantech plays).

BVP has gained lots of industry cred for its anti-portfolio, but the Larchmont, N.Y.-based firm has been no shrinking violet when it comes to closing deals.

Our database shows 212 companies supported by BVP over the past 10 years, with 449 financing rounds (KPCB had more rounds, which we used as a tie-breaker). Its estimated average investment per company was $6.61 million.

[slide title=”#8. U.S. VENTURE PARTNERS”]
USVP was busy in its third decade of operation, backing 208 companies over 574 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $9.35 million.

[slide title=”#9. GOLDMAN SACHS”]
Yup, this one was a bit of a surprise. Maybe Goldman should tell its shell-shocked PR team to hype its “job-creating” VC investments (just ask NVCA how it’s done).

The Wall Street giant backed 208 U.S.-based companies over the past decade, with 323 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $9.8 million.

[slide title=”#10. VENROCK”]
Venrock dropped the “Associates” this decade, and seemed to regain its relevance over the past 24 months (maybe that’s just because I’m a Boston guy, and WebInno has been such a roaring success).

The firm backed 200 U.S.-based companies over the past 10 years, with 528 financing rounds. Its estimated average investment per company was $8.32 million.

[slide title=”HONORARY MENTIONS”]
The next 10 firms on the list were: Accel Partners, Mayfield Fund, Mobius Venture Capital, Benchmark Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, InterWest Partners, Austin Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Oak Investment Partners and Canaan Partners.