Everyone loves a ranking, and one of the beauties of the business world is that in most situations it’s easy enough to see who is on top. Who are the biggest, most profitable, most valuable, fast-growing businesses? For public companies at least you can decide among a couple of basic yardsticks and make your own lists in just a few minutes.
A strange anomaly of Silicon Valley, though, is that some of its most important entities, namely venture capital firms, are ranked mostly on subjective and amorphous measures like “reputation,” or on anecdotal bits of information like who had a piece of big scores like Facebook. Some private research firms piece things together in various ways, but the data that would allow a proper assessment of the “best” venture capitalists—how much money they actually make on their investments—is carefully hidden from public view.