Announcing The TechCrunch List, a founder-friendly directory of first check and lead VCs

Nearly 400 investors across 22 verticals recommended by founders to founders

Update July 2021: The TechCrunch List has been officially retired.

Nothing is more important for founders than finding their first check or the investor who will lead their round, and yet, finding the right VCs to invest in their startups is an arduous and agonizing prospect. By some counts, there are now tens of thousands of VCs scattered across all corners of the globe, investing in dozens of verticals across multiple stages of investing.

Who really invests in a particular space? Who really writes checks at the seed stage or the Series A? Who really is willing to lead a round before any other investors commit?

Here at TechCrunch, it’s one of the most common questions founders ask us, and also one of the most challenging questions to answer. So we decided to launch a new initiative to help guide founders to some of the investment leaders who can help catalyze a fundraise. Our goal was both simple and bold: to reinvent the venture capital industry by bringing more transparency to what has become an ever more opaque financial environment for founders.

The TechCrunch List is a verified, curated list of investors who have demonstrated a recent commitment to first checks and leading rounds from seed through growth, organized by market vertical.

After we announced the launch of the List and the mission behind it last month, we asked founders to submit their recommendations of which VCs were instrumental in their own fundraises. That call to action was abundantly answered: more than 1,200 founders submitted recommendations of their investors, hundreds of whom submitted paragraphs, and at times, literally pages of notes about how valuable their investors were (the longest recommendation we got was over 14 pages long). For those of you who submitted your information — thank you for passing it forward to other founders who are hoping to bring their dreams to reality.

We sifted through all those hundreds of recommendations, and coupled with complementary public data from sources like Crunchbase, we constructed our initial list of first check and lead VCs.

In all, 391 investors were included in this initial draft of The TechCrunch List, organized into 22 different verticals like consumer applications, enterprise infrastructure, digital biotech, and more.

We’re also excited to publish a list of 11 VC investors who had the most enthusiastic recommendations from founders based on both quantity of recommendations as well as the depth of the comments submitted to us. For an industry that can at times feel transactional and cutthroat, these statements from founders show that sometimes the most positive relationships can also be the most remunerative.

I am delighted as well to note that while the VC industry has — and continues to have — a poor track record when it comes to diversity across race and gender, founders seem particularly keen to highlight the commitment of women and people of color to their startups. The TechCrunch List as it stands today at launch includes 69 women (18%) and 111 people of color (28%), including 23 Black venture capitalists (6%). While those percentages are clearly far below equality, it is notable that these groups seem to get recommended at a higher rate than the VC industry average.

Ultimately, The TechCrunch List is a living and breathing directory of the most active VCs who are willing to lead in the industry. We intend for the List to be regularly updated as founders give us more recommendations and investors change their tastes and their portfolios. If you are a founder and haven’t submitted your recommendation, please feel free to do so. Other founders are counting on your generosity.

As with all product launches, this initiative took a village. The executive producer was Danny Crichton, and our data analyst and producer was Arman Tabatabai. Our product team was led by Santosh Ankola and Shikha Tandon with engineering led by Robin Julius with Gary Smirny and Lety Gomez and with technical assistance from Imversion. Our business and marketing efforts were led by Ned Desmond, Joey Hinson, and Travis Bernard. The illustrations for this project were designed by Nigel Sussman and Bryce Durbin. We thank the whole TechCrunch editorial, product, engineering, and business teams for their support.