Ranked: the most prominent VC investors 2021

We’re very excited to release our fourth annual Venture Capital Investor Prominence Rank, and this year we’ve gone global. 

Based on Dealroom data as well as direct feedback from working closely with VCs themselves, we’re pleased to launch six distinct rankings of prominent global VCs, a practical tool for founders, investors and LPs.

  • Rankings include: Seed EMEA, Series A EMEA, Combined EMEA, Seed Global, Series A Global, Combined Global
  • Investors ranked based on Unicorns, Future Unicorns, deal activity
  • Accel, Sequoia, LocalGlobe and SV Angel came out on top across the various rankings 
  • Founders were the real winners, the top 10 global investors signed 802 cheques in the last year

The VC Prominence rank
Two strong themes emerged from VC investing in 2020. The first is that Europe is now firmly on the global investor map. Some of the biggest US funds have voted with their feet, setting up European offices in 2020. Global VCs want to ensure they don’t miss the next UIPath. The second is that European investors are not letting their foot off the gas. European VCs are raising bigger funds, signing bigger cheques, and more of them.

Venture Capital and innovation are increasingly borderless. US investors have broadened their horizons, and European VCs are also investing all over the world, driven by global opportunities and enabled by distributed working in the last 12 months. So this year we felt it made sense to add a global ranking into the mix.

See the full ranking, filterable by geography, sector experience and more on Dealroom, but without further ado, introducing the top 10s.

Top 10 EMEA Combined

  1. Accel
  2. Index Ventures
  3. LocalGlobe
  4. Entrée Capital
  5. Point Nine Capital
  6. Bessemer Venture Partners
  7. Idinvest Partners
  8. Seedcamp
  9. Mangrove Capital Partners
  10. Balderton Capital

With the rankings incredibly tight at the top, what’s clear is that founders are the real winner. Between Accel and Index Ventures, both Series A investors, in EMEA there was a difference of just one unicorn (31 to 30) and one future unicorns (33 to 34 respectively). The top 10 investors signed 254 cheques in EMEA in the last 12 months. 

Top 10 Series A EMEA 

  1. Accel
  2. Index Ventures
  3. Bessemer Venture Partners
  4. Idinvest Partners
  5. Balderton Capital
  6. Sequoia Capital
  7. Northzone
  8. Atomico
  9. HV Capital
  10. Creandum

Sonali De Rycker, Partner at Accel, said: “It feels like the European ecosystem has really come of age and it’s been amazing to see the acceleration that’s happened over the last few years in particular. It’s 21 years this year since we opened our London office and we’ve seen first-hand how pockets of incredible talent, innovation and ambition across Europe have evolved into 20 or so interconnecting hubs that have all reached a tipping point. The quality of entrepreneurs, the strength of the ecosystem and companies being built by first and second generation teams, as well as the availability of capital, have all come together to produce a stream of global success stories.”

Top 10 Seed EMEA 

  1. LocalGlobe
  2. Entrée Capital
  3. Point Nine Capital
  4. Seedcamp
  5. Mangrove Capital Partners
  6. Cherry Ventures
  7. SV Angel
  8. BOLDstart Ventures
  9. 500 Startups
  10. Hoxton Ventures

George Henry, General Partner, LocalGlobe said: “European and Israeli venture capital funds had a very strong year in 2020, not least because there is so much talent and entrepreneurial quality to invest in across the region. As digital adoption gathers pace, the need for later stage capital in EMEA becomes more acute. LocalGlobe is focussed on a region that is four hours travel by train from our home in London and within it we have a market of 41 million people, over 120 unicorns and with an annual IT enterprise spend of $128 bn. This is a strong tech ecosystem and only likely to get stronger as businesses realise that digital tools give them a distinct advantage, even in traditional sectors.”
View full rankings
Top 10 Global Combined

  1. SV Angel
  2. Sequoia Capital
  3. Accel
  4. Kleiner Perkins
  5. Andreessen Horowitz
  6. Index Ventures
  7. GV
  8. 500 Startups
  9. BoxGroup
  10. First Round Capital

Only one EMEA-based VC made the top 10 most prominent investors globally – Index Ventures in sixth. 

Top 10 Series A Global

  1. Sequoia Capital
  2. Accel
  3. Kleiner Perkins
  4. Andreessen Horowitz
  5. Index Ventures
  6. GV
  7. Lightspeed Venture Partners
  8. Bessemer Venture Partners
  9. Founders Fund
  10. IDG Capital

Sequoia Capital and Accel top the list of the most prominent global Series A investors. Only one EMEA-based VC made the top 10 Series A VCs globally, and that was Index Ventures in fifth. Beijing’s IDG Capital rounded off the top 10.

Top 10 Seed Global

  1. SV Angel
  2. 500 Startups
  3. BoxGroup
  4. First Round Capital
  5. Data Collective
  6. ZhenFund
  7. AME Cloud Ventures
  8. Foundation Capital
  9. 8VC
  10. Vulcan Capital

Among the global Seed, and Series A rankings, US firms once again dominate. All but one of the top 10 global Seed investors are based outside of the US and Canada, and that’s Zhen Fund in Asia in sixth. At the top of the global Seed ranking is SV Angel, ahead of 500 Startups and Box Group.

Why rank VCs?

The VC prominence rank is intended to be a practical ranking, to be used in everyday situations, such as:

  • A founder looking for capital
  • An investor looking for co-investors
  • A corporate M&A team looking for VC portfolios to explore
  • An LP exploring and comparing different funds
  • A person looking to land a job in VC, or expand their network

It’s not a performance ranking; nor is it meant to be, although there’s a high correlation between performance and the ranking, which is why many LPs use the ranking as a guideline. It’s also a practical ranking for ourselves. With over 100,000 investors now tracked on the Dealroom platform, it gives us a way to display the results in a reasonable order. 

How are the VCs ranked?

Transparency was a big aim for us with these rankings, so the lists use 3 simple data points to form the results. These data points are:

  • The number of unicorns (unrealised and realised) in portfolio
  • The number of future unicorns ($250m-$1B valuation, unrealised and realised) in portfolio
  • The number of rounds participated in in the last 12 months

The final ranking then works like an Olympics medal table with funds being ranked first by the number of unicorns in a portfolio, then where there’s a tie they’re ranked by number of future unicorns, then by the number of deals in the past 12 months. For the combined list, the funds were then weighted based on the stage at which they invest.  

Though of course funds do generally invest across different stages of a startup’s growth, each has been assigned a ‘Seed’, ‘Series A’, ‘Series B’ etc. category based on the pattern of when they typically first invest in a startup. This gives us the distinct Seed and Series A rankings.

For the 2021 ranking we’ve also created a unified, cross-stage investor ranking, including later-stage funds here too. To do this we’ve introduced a graduated “dilution factor” weighting system, effectively giving more points for a Seed fund’s unicorn than a fund backing one at Series C. 

EMEA and global rankings

In previous years the ranking was based on the most prominent VCs investing in Europe (regardless of where the investor is based). This year we’ve expanded this category to EMEA, and also included a global ranking. Once again the EMEA list considers the cheques signed by investors (anywhere) for EMEA startups, hence why US funds appear on the EMEA list, perhaps an even more impressive feat.

Have your say

As we put the list together we worked closely with the VC community to gather feedback both on methodology and on the data. We published a draft ranking in January, and two interim updates to give an opportunity for investors to let us know what we might be missing. But this isn’t just a once a year thing. We’re planning more regular updates of the prominence rank in the future, will happily review portfolio data any time of year. So do get in touch.

The VC Prominence rank