Each year, we dig into the data behind the Midas List in an effort to provide some analytical insight into the top-performing investors and their success. We often see investments in both familiar household names and industry newcomers propel the top 25 venture capitalists. We also reflect on investing trends that have led to the most success and which VCs led the push into the newest generation of high-growth companies generating outsized returns amid ever-changing market conditions.
Many of this year’s trendsetters reflect some of the earliest movers in two sectors, crypto and fintech, that have experienced outsized growth—in part due to the pandemic, but also as consumers increasingly take control of their financial futures and rely less on traditional banks and retail investing strategies. Investments in fintech companies reached a new high in 2021, surpassing the previous record set in 2018, showing just how big the VC appetite was for the sector last year. And, almost half of all cryptocurrency owners in the US, Latin America, and Asia purchased digital assets for the first time in 2021, according to a survey from cryptocurrency exchange Gemini.
Crypto and fintech have witnessed the rise of several new areas of innovation recently, drawing even more investor interest to the sectors—many of which were funded by the names below. And of course, early bets on ecommerce and consumer-facing companies (i.e., food delivery, media, gaming) continue to define the best-performing portfolio companies of many of our trendsetters.
While current inflationary trends cast a shadow of uncertainty for many of the growth stocks that rose to fame in 2021—mirroring a pullback in listed technology stocks and the IPO window—this years’ Midas List trendsetters placed their bets early and strategically, leading to a knockout year. Below is our second annual list of Midas Trendsetters whose multiple, early bets across high-growth industries newly catering to consumers helped ensure their place in the top 25 of the Midas List.
1. Chris Dixon, Andreessen Horowitz (#1)
Chris Dixon is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where he’s invested since 2012. He founded and leads a16z Crypto, which invests in Web3 technologies through three dedicated funds with more than $3 billion in assets under management. Dixon was a prolific seed investor, having co-founded seed firm Founder Collective, and having made a number of angel investments in technology companies that are household names today.
Dixon is no stranger to growing startups from the earliest stages, having co-founded and served as CEO for SiteAdvisor and Hunch. Internet security company SiteAdvisor warned web users of security threats and was acquired by McAfee in 2006. Hunch was a recommendation technology company that was acquired by eBay in 2011.
Dixon led his firm’s $25 million investment into Coinbase in 2013, the largest investment at that time for a company focused on Bitcoin and made at a time crypto was still a nascent industry. Dixon hit the ground running at Andreessen Horowitz, ensuring his firm placed early bets on the crypto companies now shaping our financial system. Just a year prior, Dixon participated as an angel investor in Stripe’s 2012 $20 million Series B round. The company was most recently valued at $95 billion in its Series H round in March 2021, one of the highest private valuations in Silicon Valley with rumors of a 2022 IPO. His other notable crypto investments include Uniswap’s and Compound’s Series A rounds.
- Coinbase (Crypto)
- Uniswap (Crypto)
- Stripe (Fintech)
- Compound (Crypto)
2. Micky Malka, Ribbit Capital (#2)
Micky Malka is the founder of Ribbit Capital, where he is focused on investing in startups that utilize technology to disrupt consumer financial services. Malka made his first visionary bets in his homeland of Venezuela, where he witnessed firsthand the horrific impact devaluation and hyperinflation can have on a nation. At a young age he developed the online brokerage Patagon, which became Latin America’s first comprehensive internet-based financial services portal and dealer. Patagon expanded its online services to the US and the rest of South America and was acquired in 2000 by Spanish bank Banco Santander for $750 million.
This early entrepreneurial success launched Malka’s now outstanding career as an investor. Resulting in one of the firm’s and Malka’s most famous investments, Ribbit agreed to lead a new round of convertible debt financing in Robinhood in 2021. The turnaround time? One day.
Ribbit first backed Robinhood in its $13 million Series A round way back in 2014, and the company remains one of the crown jewels of Ribbit’s portfolio today. Malka also notably secured an early stake in Coinbase in 2013, just a year after founding his firm, as well as in Brazilian digital bank Nubank’s Series D round in 2016 and Brex’s Series A round in 2017.
- Coinbase (Crypto)
- Nubank (Fintech)
- Robinhood (Fintech)
- Brex (Fintech)
3. Richard Liu, 5Y Capital (#4)
Richard Lui is the founding partner of 5Y Capital (formerly Morningside Venture Capital) and has over two decades of experience in the venture capital industry. An expert in media, entertainment, consumer service, enterprise, AI and fintech, Lui plays a pivotal role in managing early-stage investments in the TMT industry in China. 5Y Capital last year announced the close of a dual-currency fund worth $2 billion to provide all-stage and even longer-term support to great business disrupters.
This is Lui’s third year in a row earning a top 10 slot on the Midas List, which is partly due to his 2011 Series A investment in mobile device company Xiaomi, which went public in 2018 at an enormous $54 billion valuation. Lui also invested in electric vehicle maker XPENG’s Series B round and office-suite software developer Kingsoft Office’s Series A round.
Looking ahead, Lui’s firm 5Y Capital is actively investing in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, and bio-pharma companies—which are sure to prompt some impressive returns as Lui looks to continue his streak on the Midas List top 10.
- Xiaomi (Hardware)
- XPENG (EVs)
- Kingsoft Office (Productivity Software)
4. Keith Rabois, Founders Fund (#8)
Keith Rabois is a general partner at Founders Fund, where he led the first institutional investments in DoorDash and Affirm, and co-founded OpenDoor. Rabois began his career in the industry as a senior executive at PayPal and subsequently held leadership positions at LinkedIn and Square. He co-founded and currently serves as CEO of OpenStore, which acquires small direct-to-consumer businesses. Rabois has also served on various high-profile Boards over the course of his career, including Yelp and Xoom from inception to successful initial public offerings, and Reddit from 2012-2018.
Rabois has led investments in many high-profile tech companies in recent years, including Ramp, TradeRepublic, and Stripe. In 2013, Rabois invested in DoorDash as part of a $2.4 million seed round announced after the company went through Y Combinator’s summer batch. At the time, investors broadly saw the market opportunity for food delivery services, though the path to profitability seemed long and risky. However, after meeting DoorDash CEO Tony Xu, Rabois was sold on his leadership and ability to grow and scale a company. His other notable investments include Affirm’s and Faire’s Series D rounds.
Rabois’ ability to recognize the potential of companies early is credited to lessons learned in his own career at PayPal, LinkedIn, and Square. He turned heads when he relocated to Miami in late 2020 along with other VCs, engineers, and crypto enthusiasts.
- Doordash (Food Delivery)
- OpenDoor (Proptech)
- Affirm (Fintech)
- Faire (E-commerce)
5. Lee Fixel, Addition (#13)
Lee Fixel is the founder of Addition, an investment firm focused exclusively on early and growth stage companies. Fixel started the firm in 2020 after leaving Tiger Global, where he led the firm’s private equity business. After leaving Tiger to start Addition, he raised one of the largest debut funds in venture capital history when he collected $1.28 billion later that year, quickly becoming one of the more active players in the heated VC market.
In a now-famous story, after hearing “no” from hundreds of venture capitalists, Peloton CEO John Foley met with Fixel in 2014 and received his backing and support, as Fixel saw potential for the company to apply a recurring subscription revenue model to stationary bikes. He wired the $5 million the next day. When Peloton went public in September 2019, Tiger was the largest investor, holding just under 20% of the company.
Around the time of the Peloton IPO, Fixel shocked the industry by announcing his departure from Tiger. He had an extremely impressive track record at the firm, helping Tiger make a string of successful investments in private tech companies, especially in India, where they scored $3.5 billion when Flipkart sold to Walmart. Known initially at Tiger for later-stage investments, like the one in Spotify not long before the company went public, Fixel has now set his sights on early and growth stage companies at his well-capitalized firm, Addition.
- Flipkart (Ecommerce)
- Spotify (Media)
- Peloton (Fitness)
6. Scott Shleifer, Tiger Global (#18)
Scott Shleifer is best known for co-founding Tiger Global’s investing arm in 2002, just two years after the fund was established. Tiger credited its early success in part to Shleifer embrace of Chinese internet companies early in his tenure, so it’s no surprise we see Shleifer on this year’s trendsetters list.
In early 2019, Shleifer led a $100 million investment in Stripe, which valued the company at $22.5 billion—just over a year later following another funding round, Stripe would be valued at $95 billion, showcasing the explosive growth happening in the digital payments sector. Similarly, Shleifer led a Series F round in Roblox in 2018, before the period of explosive growth that made Roblox a household name—the Roblox community grew from 32.6 million daily active users in 2020 to nearly 50 million in 2021. Shleifer also led his firm in backing Coinbase, investing $300 million in a Series E funding round in 2018. When Coinbase went public in 2021, Tiger had a ~10% stake in the company and continued piling into shares following the IPO. While he may not have been as early as some, these combined investments prove Shleifer’s ability to gain access to hot companies directly before massive exit opportunities, resulting in significant returns over a short period.
Shleifer’s other notable investments include amassing a stake in ByteDance beginning as early as 2018. He has proven himself as a first mover in fintech and should see continued success as the reinvention of payments charges on.
- Coinbase (Crypto)
- Stripe (Fintech)
- Bytedance (Media)
- Roblox (Gaming)
7. Hemant Taneja, General Catalyst Partners (#23)
Hemant Taneja is the managing partner of General Catalyst, where he has worked since 2002. General Catalyst partners with mission-driven founders from seed to growth stage and beyond to build companies that are fundamentally aligned with the long-term interests of society. Taneja is known for his primary investment thesis, “economies of unscale,” which explores how 21st-century founders leverage AI-based mass personalization techniques to innovate and build platforms across all sectors of the economy—a topic he built upon in his 2018 book “Unscaled.”
Taneja is responsible for sourcing and securing investments in some of the hottest companies today. He famously led General Catalyst’s $20 million Series B in Stripe in 2012, making him one of the earliest to predict the payments revolution we see today. Last year, Taneja teamed up with former Stripe executives Jon Zieger and Diede van Lamoen to launch a non-profit called Responsible Innovation Labs, which aims to help fast-growth companies build their businesses by considering societal and environmental impacts from the outset.
His other notable investments include participating in Snap’s Series B in 2013, Samsara’s Series C in 2017, as well as a significant investment made in Grammarly in 2017.
- Stripe (Fintech)
- Snap (Social Media)
- Samsara (IoT)
- Grammarly (Software)
8. Nicolas Szekasy, Kaszek Ventures (#25)
A native of Argentina, Nicolas Szekasy co-founded Kaszek Ventures in 2011, and the firm has since raised over $1 billion and invested in more than 90 startups, making it the largest venture firm in Latin America. Prior to Kaszek Ventures, Szekasy spent ten years as the CFO at Mercado Libre, Latin America’s largest online commerce and payments platform, leading its $333 million IPO in 2007.
Szekasy led Nubank’s $2 million Seed round in 2013, and his early bet paid off when Nubank hit the public markets in 2021 at a $41.5 billion valuation. Szekasy has also participated in other early rounds, including Brazilian lender Creditas’ 2017 Series B, used car marketplace Kavak’s Series A in 2018, and a 2016 investment in small-business lender Konfio.
- Nubank (Fintech)
- Creditas (Fintech)
- Kavak (Marketplace)
- Konfio (Fintech)