Who are the hottest tech investors? Ask Sunesis

In Silicon Valley, to be dubbed one of the “world’s smartest tech investors” is an honor that probably surpasses even People’s “sexiest man alive” title.

But how much cash do these renowned venture capitalists actually make for the pension funds and corporations investing in their funds?

That’s what one group of researchers hopes to find out by launching a new VC rankings platform dubbed Sunesis.

The platform, launched Tuesday by North Carolina-based Greg Bohlen, co-founding partner of Union Grove Venture Partners, seeks to provide more accurate information about the worth of Silicon Valley’s elite investors.

“There is so little transparency or visibility as to how partners are actually performing inside of firms,” Bohlen said in an interview with Silicon Beat. “We thought it was important to begin [a self-regulating organization] to focus on understanding who’s really good at doing what, so that capital ultimately could move much more efficiently to those who are performing well with it.”

Some well-known VC ranking systems already exist. There’s the Forbes Midas List — which ranks “The world’s smartest tech investors” — and the recently released “Top 100 venture capitalists” published by CB Insights and The New York Times.

But Bohlen says those lists put too much emphasis on investments VCs make to companies that have high valuations but have yet to generate cash for investors by going public or being acquired. Take Uber — valued at $62.5 billion, the ride-hailing company is the world’s most valuable “unicorn.” But investors have yet to see a dime from their Uber shares, and the company shows no intention of holding an IPO any time soon.

The Sunesis philosophy of counting cold, hard cash instead of perceived valuations mirrors a larger trend in Silicon Valley. VCs have become wary of unicorns they fear may have inflated valuations, and experts caution that startups with sky-high price tags won’t be able to go public or be acquired at such a price.

Bohlen is asking all VC firms to sign up on the Sunesis website and enter information for deals their partners have led. The Sunesis algorithm will analyze the data and will generate an annual rankings list in conjunction with Fortune. Bohlen said he’s received hundreds of emails already from interested VCs.

The data is all self-reported, which of course raises questions about whether it will be accurate. Bohlen said his team will verify any entries that appear suspicious.

CrunchBase has partnered with Sunesis on the project, and Fortune’s Dan Primack has been advising.

“Venture capital is one of very few investment management industries without an accurate accounting of the best professionals,” Primack wrote in his Term Sheet newsletter Tuesday. “I’m hoping we can change that.”

Photo: Marla Davies and Jeff Pope hold the $140 cash found by a camera-shy fellow employee during a treasure hunt in San Jose in 2014. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)


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  • Li Natalie

    We are hoping we can change that.