12 stellar venture capitalists to watch in 2021

·12-min read
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 15:  (L-R) Matt Turck, Spencer Lazar, Sriram Krishnan and Mar Hershenson speak onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017  at Pier 36 on May 15, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
(L-R) Matt Turck, Spencer Lazar, Sriram Krishnan and Mar Hershenson speak onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 at Pier 36 on May 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

If you have any interest in or knowledge of Greek mythology, then you would most likely have heard of the 'Amazons', a group of female warriors and hunters, who matched men in physical strength and agility in all fields of combat. 

It is said that their society was closed for men and their daughters were raised to be the breadwinners and achievers.

While decades of archeological surveys has not yet completely shed light on this age old 'myth', one thing has certainly come to light— the 'present day woman' definitely matches or surpasses men in all fields of intellect.

The world of finance and investing combined with technology has traditionally been a man's playing field, obviously due to societal conditioning and mental hurdles.

But time and again, several women have broken the glass ceiling and proved their mettle in this game. 

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Particularly since the outbreak of COVID, there is a shift underway in the tech investing landscape and many women have used this to their advantage and are now in focus.

Here are 12 stellar women investors, who have featured on the Forbes 20th annual Midas List of the world’s best venture capitalists.

They are not only giving their male counterparts a run for their money this year, but are a force to reckon in the years to come.

1. Mary Meeker, General Partner, Bond Capital

Partner at KPCB, Mary Meeker, speaks onstage during Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco in 2016.
KPCB partner Mary Meeker at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on October 19, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

61 year old Mary Meeker is an American venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst. She is a general partner of venture capital firm Bond Capital and focuses on investments in high-growth technology companies.

In 2014, she was listed as the 77th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and this year she's been ranked 21st on the Forbes 20th annual Midas List. Her Internet Trends Report, which she has published every year since 1995 when she was a tech analyst at Morgan Stanley, is one of the most highly anticipated annual reports for tech investors.

She serves on the boards of Genies, Nextdoor, Plaid and Square. She has supported BOND’s investments in BYJU’s, Canva, Checkr, CLEAR, Hipcamp, Humane, Ironclad, Material Bank, Nextdoor and On Running. She is known for her astute bets in industry-defining companies such as Peloton, Ring, Pinterest, Airbnb, Instacart, DocuSign, Waze, JD.com, Trendyol, Spotify, LegalZoom and Facebook.

Mary continues to co-lead the three Digital Growth Funds totalling US$2.8 billion of committed capital. In 2021, her investments Plaid and Canva raised funding at valuations of US$13.4 billion and US$15 billion, respectively.

2. Anna Fang, Partner and CEO, ZhenFund

Anna Fang, partner and chief executive officer, ZhenFund,  attends the Day 2 of the RISE Conference 2017 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 12, 2017 in Hong Kong.
Anna Fang, ZhenFund partner and CEO on July 12, 2017 in Hong Kong. (Photo by studioEAST/Getty Images)

38-yr-old Anna Fang is the CEO and Founding Partner of ZhenFund, an early stage venture capital firm in China. She oversees the fund's investments, portfolio management and operations.

Anna's investments include e-commerce, AI and education companies. Before joining ZhenFund, Anna worked at GE China in Corporate Business Development, responsible for GE’s M&A and BD efforts in China.

She started her career as an investment banker at JPMorgan's New York office covering consumer and retail companies. Anna was named 'Top 10 Early-stage Investors of the Year 2018' by Zero2IPO Group, voted '2018 China's 100 Best Investors' by entrepreneurs on 36Kr, and in 2021 ranked 26th on the Forbes 20th annual Midas List.

She was also named a Young Global Leader in 2016. She is currently an advisory board member of Columbia College and Columbia’s Global Centers; she also leads the Beijing chapter of Stanford GSB.

3. Mar Hershenson, Managing Partner, Pear VC

Image of Mar Hershenson, Managing Partner, Pear VC
Mar Hershenson, founder and managing partner at Pear VC. (Source: Supplied)

50-yr-old Mar Hershenson has been described as "one of the leading women in venture capital in the Bay Area". As a co-founder and managing partner at Pear Ventures, she brings operational and technical expertise to the investment team.

After earning a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1999, she had developed a ground-breaking technique for optimising the design of analog semiconductors. She accrued more than 13 years of founder experience, co­founding three startups in the mobile/ e-commerce, enterprise software and semiconductor industries.

Since 2013 she is the Founding Managing Partner at Pear VC. As of 2021, she is a debutante on the Forbes 20th annual Midas List. She has been ranked 29th, owing to her shrewd investments in DoorDash and Guardant Health, both of which went public in 2020, as well as Gusto, now valued at close to US$4 billion. 

4. Jenny Lee, Managing Partner, GGV Capital

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  GGV Capital Managing Partner Jenny Lee speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017   at Pier 48 on September 19, 2017 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
GGV Capital Managing Partner Jenny Lee at Pier 48 on September 19, 2017 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

49-yr-old Jenny Lee is best known for her focus on startup innovation in areas such as EdTech, FinTech, Robotics, and AI. Since 2005 she has been instrumental in helping 10 early stage companies go public on NYSE, Nasdaq, ChiNext, HKSE and SSE STAR Market exchanges, and numerous portfolio companies exit through mergers and acquisitions.

Jenny launched GGV’s first office in China in 2005 and re-opened GGV’s Singapore office in 2019. She also leads the firm’s USD fund raising activities.

Since 2012, Jenny has been consistently recognised by the Forbes Global 100 VC Midas list, and the first woman to break the Top 10 in 2015. She's also been recognised by Vanity Fair, Fast Company, the New York Times and CB insights, and ranks 8th among top venture capitalists in Asia.

Jenny is also well respected in the Singapore business community and is a recipient of a number of Singapore business awards. In 2021, she has been ranked 33rd on the Forbes list. In January 2021, GGV's portfolio company and ed-tech platform Huohua hit unicorn status by raising funds at a US$1.5 billion valuation.

5. Jing Hong, Founding Partner, Gaocheng Capital

48-yr-old Jing Hong holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and MA and BA degrees from Tsinghua University. Prior to Gaocheng, she was a Partner, Head of Private Equity and Investment Committee member of Hillhouse Capital Group.

She was also the Managing Director and Head of global emerging markets consumer & retail sector of General Atlantic LLC. She is known for betting on companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba, online-to-offline business Meituan, and vehicle-for-hire outfit Didi.

Gaocheng Capital also has an investment in Youzan, the largest provider of WeChat stores in mainland China. Hong helped seal a US$300 million fund in 2020 and In 2021, she has been ranked 39th on the Forbes Midas List.

6. Kathy Xu, Founding Partner, Capital Today

Image of Kathy Xu
Capital Today founding partner Kathy Xu. (Source: Capital Today)

54-yr-old Kathy Xu's is also known as the Queen of China's Venture Capital. In 2018, her firm Capital Today made a smart move by betting on the US$8.6 million Series A for Xingsheng Youxuan, a community shopping platform for food and household goods that was valued at $4 billion in February 2021.

She was also an investor in JD.com, which went public in 2017 and was valued at US$59 billion in 2018, as well as three food-related platforms including Meituan Dianping, all of which are now public. Kathy started her career in the Headquarter office of Bank of China after her graduation in 1988.

Three years later she joined PWC Hong Kong as a participator in a Sino-British programme intended to train the first international certified accountants. In 1995 Kathy participated in Peregrine, a local institutional investor in Hong Kong.

She moved to Baring Private Equity Asia Group as the managing director of China in 1998, and established Capital Today in 2005. In 2021, she has been ranked 71st on the Forbes Midas List.

7. Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners

HONG KONG , Hong Kong - 9 July 2019; Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners, on Venture Stage during day one of RISE 2019 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Nisa Leung, Managing Partner, Qiming Venture Partners, 2019. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

51-yr-old Nisa Leung is a Stanford Graduate and currently the Managing Partner of Qiming Venture Partners, leading its health care investments. Qiming Venture Partners is a leading investment firm in China which currently manages investment in over 380 companies.

She currently sits on the board of several health and medical-related tech companies. She specialises in investing in pharmaceutical and medical technology firms.

She has been recognised by the Forbes Global 100 VC Midas List in 2019, 2020 and 2021, named Best Women VCs List by Forbes China ( 2nd on the list in 2021, 3rd in 2018) and won Venture Capital Professional of the Year by Asian Venture Capital Journal in 2017. In 2021 she has been ranked 73rd on the Forbes Midas List.

8. Kirsten Green, Founder and Managing Partner, Forerunner Ventures

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Forerunner Ventures Founding Partner Kirsten Green speaks onstage during Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 7, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Forerunner Ventures Founding Partner Kirsten Green on September 7, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

49-yr-old Kirsten Green is a UCLA graduate with a unique and unconventional professional history and investment experience. Kirsten launched San Francisco-based Forerunner Ventures in 2010, where she serves as Founder and Managing Partner.

Kirsten’s more than 20 years of evaluation and investment success is a result of a combination of product savvy, consumer insight and a thesis-driven approach that has been the foundation of all her investments — from pre-revenue startups to multi-billion-dollar enterprises.

As a founder, Kirsten has led efforts to raise over US$1 billion from leading institutional investors and invest in more than 100 companies. She currently serves as a member of the several board of directors, including at Nordstrom.

She has been honoured in Time’s 100 Most Influential People, named a Top 20 Venture Capitalists by The New York Times in 2018 & 2017, included on Forbes' Midas List for the past 5 years, in addition to being named in the magazine’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. She's also been recognised by TechCrunch and Vanity Fair awards. Kirsten is a founding member of the female mentorship collective, All Raise, and actively champions women in the tech industry. 

Her most recent win was in in July 2020, amidst the pandemic, when Forerunner raised a US$500 million fund, total assets under management to US$1.2 billion. She has been ranked 74th on the Forbes 20th annual Midas List.

9. Sonali De Rycker, Partner, Accel

Sonali De Rycker of Accel poses during a portrait session at the Digital Life Design women conference (DLDwomen) at the Centre for New Technologies at Deutsches Museum on June 11, 2010 in Munich, Germany. DLDwomen is about new opportunities, new markets, the new lifestyle and future developments of women's role that are being influenced by today's digital age and social transformation.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Sonali De Rycker. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

48-yr-old Sonali De Rycker originally hails from Mumbai, India and is a Harvard Business School graduate. She joined Accel in 2008 and invests in consumer internet, software and fintech businesses.

She led Accel’s investments in companies such as Spotify, Primer, Calastone, Monzo, Shift Technology, Hopin, Sennder and many more. Prior to Accel, she was with Atlas Venture (now Accomplice). She also previously served on the board of Match.com 

Her most recent bet, Berlin-based B2B freight marketplace Sennder, hit US$1 billion valuation in January 2021 and she has been ranked at 83rd on the Forbes 20th Midas List. She is now a citizen of the UK.

10. Ann Miura-Ko, Cofounding Partner, Floodgate

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 04: Floodgate Co-Founder & Partner Ann Miura-Ko speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco 2019 at Moscone Convention Center on October 04, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
Floodgate Co-Founder & Partner Ann Miura-Ko. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

44-yr-old Ann Miura-Ko is a repeat member of the Forbes Midas List and the New York Times Top 20 Venture Capitalists Worldwide. She was also named the Most Powerful Woman in Startups by Forbes.

Ann is well-known in Silicon Valley as a pioneer investor in highly technical companies because of her background as a PhD in math modelling of infosec at Stanford.

Ann has also made significant investments in consumer (commerce, curation), marketplaces, and software for small-medium businesses and solopreneurs. Some of Ann’s investments include Lyft (where she is still a board member), Xamarin, Monthly, Popshop, Emotive, and Refinery29.

Prior to Floodgate, Ann worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company. She lives in the Bay Area and continues to reap the reward from her early investment into ride hailing company Lyft in 2010.

When the company went public in 2019 at a US$24 billion valuation her stake grew 10,000-fold. Miura-Ko also bet on Refinery29, which was sold to Vice Media for US$400 million in 2019. In 2021 she has been ranked 89th on the Forbes Midas List.

11. Luciana Lixandru, Partner, Sequoia

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 05:  Accel Partner Luciana Lixandru talks at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2017 at Arena Berlin on December 5, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch
)
Luciana Lixandru in 2017. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

36-yr-old Romanian-born investor Luciana Lixandru is a partner at Sequoia Capital investing in seed/Series A companies and beyond in Europe. At Sequoia, Luciana focuses on enterprise and consumer technology companies across Europe.

She is passionate about helping founders unlock their potential at various stages and drive them to think on a global scale. Prior to becoming Sequoia’s first partner in Europe, Luciana worked at Accel for eight years, where she led investments in UiPath, Deliveroo, Hopin, Framer, Miro, and Tessian.

In 2021, she has been ranked 99th on the Forbes Midas List.

12. Ruby Lu, Founder, Atypical Ventures

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, Ruby Lu is the founder of China-based Atypical Ventures, a venture capital firm based in New York. It offers funding services to business entrepreneurs, emerging, and start-up companies.

Ruby has vast experience in investing in technology start-ups in the U.S. and China. She founded Atypical Ventures in 2019. In 2006, she co-founded DCM China, a venture capital firm.

During her more than 12-year tenure at DCM, she invested in, and served as a board member for, many leading technology companies, including BitAuto Holdings Limited, Ecommerce China Dangdang Inc. and Pactera Technology International Ltd.

She obtained a 2,000-fold return in 2021 when the online video company Kuaishou, which she bet on in its early stages, went public in February in a huge IPO. In 2021, she debuted in on the Forbes Midas list at 100th.

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