While angel investors were vying for the title of world’s top venture investor of 2014, a Round Table of twelve venture firms ascended the throne in the Silicon Valley venture capital ecosystem.

From experienced veterans Sequoia and Greylock to early-stage powerhouses Y Combinator and 500 Startups, these investors top the charts for most active, most successful, and most popular venture firms.

Together they’ve teamed up to fund the highest valued unicorn companies, among other hits.

What distinguishes this bunch in particular is their exclusivity – they all co-invest most frequently with each other. Not a single venture firm outside of this secret society of sorts is listed as a top co-investor for anyone inside the group.

When it comes to the startups they’re backing, it seems like a Y Combinator degree is the easiest ticket in.

Only four startups to date have received early-stage funding from 5 or more of these investors – Shoptiques, CrowdMed, Swiftype, and recently-acquired Freshplum – and they’re all YC graduates.

But having more investors from this exclusive crowd chip in is not necessarily better for entrepreneurs raising their first funding rounds.

Airbnb, Stripe, Flipboard and Domo were all backed in early stage rounds by three VCs in the group, and went on to raise hundreds of millions more in follow-on venture dollars with valuations above or nearing $1 billion.

Benchmark was the only one in the bunch to recognize Uber’s potential early on, and SV Angel got in on Twitter back in 2007 before KPCB, Benchmark and everyone else caught on.

This week the group has placed early-stage bets on natural language API Wit.ai and expedited background check startup Checkr. Not surprisingly, both are graduates of Y Combinator’s 2014 classes.

Photo via Flickr user Mark Hillary.

  • Originally published October 15, 2014, updated April 26, 2023