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Updated Jan 03, 2024

Meet the Angels: Silicon Valley’s Most Well-Known Investors

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer

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Silicon Valley, the tech capital of the United States, draws investors seeking to fund the “next big thing.” The proliferating ideas, expertise and funding have turned the area into a breeding ground for some of the biggest companies in the world. As a result, Silicon Valley is home to some of the most powerful investors in the nation.

If your startup wants to find investors for early-stage capital, this list of some of the most well-known investors in the Valley will give you a place to start.

Silicon Valley’s most well-known investors

The following 14 Silicon Valley investors illustrate how diverse the interest has become in pursuing startups across a broader range of industries, particularly new business segments with the greatest potential for sustainable and profitable growth.

The list also shows the emergence of new types of funding vehicles, including equity crowdfunding and accelerators, and investors who previously were part of other successful companies as executives or founders but are now seeking success through investing in new business ideas.

1. Ron Conway, SV Angel

Ron Conway is a renowned Silicon Valley angel investor and philanthropist. Conway ran Angel Investors LP Funds for seven years. He is currently running SV Angel, a San Francisco-based angel investment firm. Conway was also an early-stage investor for Google, Facebook and PayPal. Recent projects include One Concern, Overlay and Tomorrow Farms. Conway was featured in the Forbes magazine Midas List of top dealmakers.

2. Gary Vaynerchuk, Vayner/RSE

Gary Vaynerchuk is best known for being an influencer in the area of digital marketing. However, he’s also an angel investor via Vayner/RSE. He has invested in more than 70 companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Shopify. His current investments include OpenFortune, Metalink and SlamBall.

3. Tim Draper, DFJ

Tim Draper is the founder of DFJ (Draper Fisher Jurvetson), a 30-year-old venture capital firm. In 1996, Draper and partner Jurvetson had the idea to attach advertising messages at the end of emails, which led to what we now know as “viral marketing.” Aside from being an advisor to other startups, Draper’s dedication to sharing his knowledge has led him to found his own university, primarily focused on entrepreneurship. He has invested in Robinhood, Coinbase and eShares.

4. Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz

Marc Andreessen is an entrepreneur, investor and software engineer. From developing Mosaic, the first web browser, and going on to found other software companies that he later sold, Andreessen has an experienced technical background. His notable investments include Halo Neuroscience and Savvy. Andreessen’s venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, was ranked the No. 1 venture capital firm. 

5. Paul Buchheit, Y Combinator

As the 23rd employee of Google, Paul Buchheit created Gmail. Aside from being a programmer, Buchheit is also a renowned Silicon Valley Investor and group partner at Y Combinator, which has funded more than 1,000 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Instacart and Reddit. More recently, he has funded SiPhox, dNovo and Perplexity AI.

6. Garry Tan, Initialized Capital

Through Initialized Capital, Tan has invested in Coinbase, Flexport, Instacart and Cruise. Before Initialized Capital, he was a partner at Y Combinator and advised and funded over 1,000 companies and their founders. He has also funded Opendoor, Trusted Insights and Zenefits.

7. Reid Hoffman, Greylock

Reid Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn, the professional networking website, and an early investor in Facebook and Flickr. Hoffman was also previously part of the PayPal Mafia. Hoffman is now a VC partner at Greylock Partners, one of the oldest VC firms. 

TipBottom line

To successfully network on LinkedIn, ensure your profile is complete and optimized with a professional photo, headline and profile summary.

8. Peter Thiel, Founders Fund

Peter Thiel is a partner at a venture firm, Founders Fund, that invests primarily in science and technology companies. Thiel is a renowned social critic and dedicates himself to finding innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging problems. Thiel co-founded PayPal Mafia and was an investor in LinkedIn and Yelp. 

FYIDid you know

The average angel investor deal is structured as a convertible note, business debt that can be converted into equity.

9. Alexis Ohanian, Seven Seven Six

Alexis Ohanian co-founded and runs Reddit. He is also a bestselling author and angel investor through his firm Seven Seven Six. The company has funded Dispo, Huddles, Airhouse and Splendid Spoon, as well as Pipe, an online platform that connects entrepreneurs to investors.

10. Naval Ravikant, AngelList

Naval Ravikant is the founder of Wellfound (formerly called AngelList), a platform for startups to recruit others and seek investors. Ravikant is an active angel investor. His investments include Twitter, Uber, Postmates and, more recently, Unsplash, Zaarly and Vurb.

11. Mark Cuban, Mark Cuban Companies

Mark Cuban is best known for the hit television show Shark Tank, but he’s also invested in hundreds of startups via Mark Cuban Companies. Some of his notable investments include SlideShare, Soundwave and Upstart. He is currently the lead investor in Bot-It, Nature’s Wild Berry and Tones of Melanin.

12. Chamath Palihapitiya, The Social + Capital Partnership

Born in Sri Lanka and raised in Canada, Palihaptiya is a Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur. Palihapitiya is the founder and CEO of Social Capital, a venture capital firm dedicated to transforming society with technology. Social Capital focuses on investments in healthcare, education, fintech and frontier tech.

13. Max Levchin, SciFiVC

Max Levchin is the founder of fintech company Affirm and was an early employee at PayPal. He has invested in Yelp, Evernote and Slide, and currently runs SciFiVC, a fund that focuses on fintech, marketplaces and science, including machine learning, CRISPR, robotics and quantum computing.

14. Amos Ben-Meir, Sand Hill Angels and Green Visor Capital

Amos Ben-Meir is the vice president and one of the investors at Sand Hill Angels, an organization of over 200 angel investors in Silicon Valley. He’s also a founding partner at Green Visor Capital, which focuses on investment in financial services. He has invested in AppDirect, Trulia and Loop.

FYIDid you know

Angel investors look for a compelling story, a large market and a strong team. They also want realistic business valuations and financial projections.

What is an angel investor? 

An angel investor provides seed money for startups and takes an ownership interest in the company. They are high-net-worth individuals and usually invest their own money in companies and ideas that intrigue them. They understand that their investment is high risk and are therefore looking for a high rate of return. 

Some angel investors just provide money, while others provide advice and help with managing the company and its growth.

When starting a new business, entrepreneurs often seek angel funding instead of applying for a business loan from a bank because they can usually get more favorable terms. 

Tips for securing an angel investor

To secure angel funding, you must be prepared, find an angel investor who’s a good fit and give a winning pitch. Here are some tips for securing an angel investor:

1. Create a business plan.

Before approaching an angel investor, you must ensure you have a solid plan for building and growing your business. This plan should identify your executive team, share an executive summary and include detailed information on the following: 

  • Your product or service and how it’s unique
  • Your sales and marketing plan

You’ll also need pro forma financial statements showing:

  • How much money you need
  • How you plan to spend it
  • What your cash flow will be 
  • How much revenue and profit you are projecting to earn 
  • When you project you’ll break even

2. Prepare an elevator pitch and a pitch deck.

An elevator pitch is a quick and to-the-point summary of why someone should invest in your startup. Theoretically, it should take about 30 seconds – the time it takes for an elevator to get to your floor. A compelling elevator pitch will attract a potential angel investor’s attention and interest, allowing you to schedule a time to tell them more about your business and make a longer, more formal and confident sales pitch.

You’ll use a pitch deck when making your formal pitch to an investor. A pitch deck is a PowerPoint presentation (or similar) showing angel investors what your company does, its market, team, strategy and financials. Ensure you have a professionally designed deck and a well-practiced delivery. It’s also crucial to be well prepared and able to answer any question potential investors may have.

3. Create interest on social media.

Post about your startup’s journey on social media, recounting its successes, failures and lessons learned. Share information about the founders and their (your) knowledge, expertise and passion. Some angel investors may find you via social media. However, you can also use social platforms to pursue investors by connecting with them, commenting on their posts and, when ready, giving them a written version of your elevator pitch. 

4. Talk to wealthy friends and family members.

Many angel investments come from people close to home, including family members, friends, friends of the family and mentors. Find out if anyone in your social circle has invested in startup companies or is interested in doing so. If so, arrange for mutual friends to discuss your idea enthusiastically. When appropriate, give them your elevator pitch to determine if there is any interest.

5. Compete in pitch competitions.

Startup competitions and pitch competitions allow you to connect with angel investors while getting a chance to practice and hone your pitch. If you win a pitch competition, you will get invaluable investor exposure.

6. Network with other founders.

Talking to other entrepreneurs can give you valuable insights into the investment landscape and individual angel investors. You can ask other founders for investor introductions, learn details about what specific angels are looking for and leverage mutual connections. 

7. Investigate incubators and accelerators.

Local incubators and accelerators often seek startups that meet specific criteria. If you find one that fits your company and needs, use it to get access to experienced mentors and industry experts, network with other entrepreneurs, leverage alumni networks, and participate in demo days where you can pitch your product and company.

John Rampton contributed to this article.

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Jennifer Dublino, Contributing Writer
Jennifer Dublino is a prolific researcher, writer, and editor, specializing in topical, engaging, and informative content. She has written numerous e-books, slideshows, websites, landing pages, sales pages, email campaigns, blog posts, press releases and thought leadership articles. Topics include consumer financial services, home buying and finance, general business topics, health and wellness, neuroscience and neuromarketing, and B2B industrial products.
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