An increase in female leaders and entrepreneurs is not only good for equality in finance and business, but for the economy at large. Women remain a minority among the most successful venture capital investors in the world, but their presence is growing. On last year’s Midas List, a ranking of VC investors based on the amount and financial size of their exits and highly-valued private companies over the past five years, nine women earned spots on the annual ranking, including three female newcomers.
Ranking only exits (acquisitions or public offerings), valued over $200 million or private investments in companies valuing $400 million or more, here are some of the top female venture capitalists.
Mary Meeker earned her share as a general partner at Bond Capital, where her growth fund raised $1.25 billion in capital commitments last year. In the previous decade, from 2010 to 2018, Meeker was a partner at VC giant Kleiner Perkins. Meeker has made bold, but shrewd bets. Her investment in Spotify put her on the map along with securing exits in Airbnb, Instacart, Slack, Square, and Houzz, on top of tech behemoths Twitter and Facebook. Her famously annual spring report on famous Internet Trends details her tech predictions in 200 data-heavy slides.
Kathy Xu, one of the newer members on the Midas List, is the founder and partner of Shanghai firm Capital Today. Beginning her career as a bank clerk in China, Xu then went on to become an investor at the Hong Kong firm Peregrine and Baring Private Equity Asia before establishing Capital Today in 2005. Xu had invested in JD.com as its only Series A investor when Capital Today was less than a year old. Xu has also invested in China’s second-largest online retailer, with investments in NetEase, the Chinese gaming company and the discount e-commerce site Meituan-Dianping. After JD.com became a public entity in 2015, Xu hit a career-defining mark. Her $18 million investment in the company returned $2.9 billion to Capital Today and its investors.
As the managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners, Nisa Leung is a healthcare investing expert at the leading firm that currently manages over $5.6 billion in assets in over 370 companies.
Before finding Qiming, Leung first established Biomedic Holdings with operations and investments in medical devices, pharma and healthcare services in China, including big hitters like U-Systems (acquired by GE Healthcare) and Novamed Pharmaceuticals. Leung’s resume also includes her role as a Venture Partner at PacRim Ventures and Softbank/Mobius Venture Capital. Today, she sits on the board of major healthcare companies, Gan & Lee Pharmaceuticals, Venus MedTech, Insilico Medicine, CanSino Biologics and New Horizon Bio, among others. On top of investing in these companies, she holds a range of investments in other healthcare companies.
Named to the Forbes Global 100 VC Midas List in 2019 and 2020, she was also named China’s top 3 best female venture capitalists in 2018, winning Venture Capital Professional of the Year by Asian Venture Capital Journal the previous year.
Leung has said, “A lot of the time, [companies] don’t actually need to raise a lot of money.” Instead, she weeds out entrepreneurs who want a quick turnaround and instead picks early-stage firms with long-term vision, especially within healthcare. The strategy continues to pay off and her trio of recent IPOs, including Chinese vaccine maker CanSino and medical device maker Venus MedTech in 2019 and Schrödinger, which makes chemical simulation software, in February 2020.
Considered one of the most respected VC investors in China, Jenny Lee has served as the managing partner at GGV Capital since 2005. In 2019, the firm solidified $1.88 billion in funds, making it one of the largest global raises for a VC firm in 2018. Lee’s portfolio ranges from space investment moonshots eHang184 (China’s first flying tax) and Lingochamp, an A.I.-based language-learning bot. Jenny Lee continues to be a heavy hitter with investments including the social media company, YY, which has appreciated over 10x since its public offering in November 2012.
The VC who hails from Southern California (and the only one from SoCo ranking on Midas List) founded her firm, Westlake Village BioPartners, in 2019 and made her first investments with the firm last year. Seidenberg’s strategy to incubate and focus on early-stage investments in life science startups began when, through her firm, she secured and launched cell therapy companies, Kyverna Therapeutics and Arsenal Biosciences. While those startups are still new, Seidenberg has also secured lucrative deals with a trio of new investments from a Kleiner Perkins payoff, including health management company Livongo which went public in July 2019. That portfolio also includes fertility benefits platform Progyny and clinical biotech firm RAPT Therapeutics.