Art by Mike Sullivan
April 7, 2022 6:00 AM PDT

Somebody forgot to send Oren Zeev the memo about how Silicon Valley venture capitalists are supposed to act. The investor has fewer than 3,000 followers on Twitter, where he rarely opines on the kinds of trending topics that light up venture land. He conducts meetings with startup founders at a two-story coffee shop in Palo Alto, Calif., Cafe Venetia, rather than in posh offices on Sand Hill Road. His greatest narrative violation may be that he doesn’t invest in crypto.

“I don’t have strong domain expertise and I don’t have the motivation to develop it,” Zeev said. “So why would a crypto company want to take money from me?”

And yet, the 57-year-old Israeli-American has quietly become a player in venture capital, despite operating as a one-man shop and having a tendency toward bluntness in conversation. In 2021 alone, Zeev—whose limited partners include Peter Thiel and top university endowments—invested $683 million and backed 10 new startups across two new funds, Zeev told The Information, a pace that exceeds that of more established VC firms. Around 80% of that money went to doubling and tripling down on earlier startup investments, according to fund documents viewed by The Information. That’s an unusual approach for a solo investor.

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