What do people think of VCs in Boston?

2nd largest VC market in the US (at least over the last 10 years). 

Reputation for being less risk taking when it comes to social web investments, better for cleantech and more traditional investment channels. 

What does "efficient" mean in questions like Is angel investing efficient?

In this context, efficient refers to economic efficiency (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eco…). Efficient economic systems do a good job of allocating resources (time, money, …); inefficient ones are wasteful.

Angel investing (loosely defined) is an economic system: angels search for and allocate their money to startups, and entrepreneurs work on startups partly due to the availability of angel money.

So, angel investing is a system in which investors and entrepreneurs commit time and money. Someone asking whether angel investing is efficient wants to know whether this time and money is well-spent, or if there's a better way to do it.

What US and European VC firms have had the highest performing funds since 2001?

Based on scuttlebutt – in Europe only – Index has a great set of funds.

 Based on Calpers returns data  (http://www.calpers.ca.gov/index….)  as of March 31 2010

 Index II (2001) had an IRR of 28.1%
 Index II (2005) had an IRR of 7.2%

 Calpers highest returning older vintage fund in the CEV program was KPS Special Situations (2003) with an IRR  of 57.7%

Based on peHub / Utimco (http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2…)
USV I has a 55.87% IRR
Foundry Group 2007 fund has a 77% IRR (Calpers)

Which companies have gone public without VC funding?

Oracle
Broadcom
Walmart
MicroStrategy

Google took VC funding only at an extremely large valuation and without surrendering control of their board of directors.
Microsoft only raised 1 million in venture capital.

Essentially any companies whose founders were billionaires did not take venture capital funding or avoided it until they could maintain control of their company and until the venture capital investment represented a small portion of the outstanding equity in the company.  For example prominent examples lookup Michael Saylor, Larry Ellison, Ross Perot, Henry Nicholas, Bill Gates, the Waltons, and so on.

There are a large number of entrepreneurs who have built publicly traded companies, who did not make any money from the companies (ex. Equinox).

Who invested in Google early on?

other angels/early investors:

Ram Shriram (angel)
Ron Conway (through Angel Investors LP)
David Cheriton (angel)

both Ram and David became billionaires (like Andy) from their angel investments so i'm assuming it was of the same magnitude ($100k ish) at around the same valuation (before kleiner and sequoia put in $25M at $100M pre)…

What's the difference between good and great among venture capitalists?

Its not about picking the huge winners. There is more going on. Firstly, successful VC's attract the best entrepreneurs. The best entrepreneurs are smart enough to pick the best VC's, and have the ability to raise money from them. Secondly, the best VC's are able to help their companies – provide them with the right strategic advice, coach them, help them recruit the right people, help them get acquired, etc. The worst VC's provide mistaken advice, force poor managers on the entrepreneurs, and in general do everything they can to run the company into the ground.
In short, my hypothesis is that a great VC and a bad VC, if allowed to invest in the same set of startups and entrepreneurs, will end up with vastly different returns. The act of picking the investment, while crucial, is just the first step in a long journey to a successful outcome.

Does Sequoia Capital have associates on its team?

Sequoia Capital can be thought of as two entities, an early stage fund and a growth/later stage fund. Both perform well, although Sequoia has been especially successful (and gained fame/acclaim) from its early stage fund.

Historically Sequoia has had associates in its growth practice, both pre- and post-MBA levels. Occasionally Sequoia will bring in an associate for its early stage fund, and I believe this is normally a post-MBA position.

Which are the most successful Y Combinator companies?

I think there are some companies in YC that are really successful but don't get nearly as much buzz like Weebly and Scribd, so I made an index of the top 100 companies that have not yet exited.
The Y Combinator Startup Index

My top picks for not yet exited companies, by batch, are:

  • Winter 2013 – Bitnami
  • Summer 2012 – 9GAG
  • Winter 2012 – Daily Muse
  • Summer 2011 – Codecademy
  • Winter 2011 – HelloFax
  • Summer 2010 – Hipmunk
  • Winter 2010 – Optimizely
  • Summer 2009 – Olark
  • Winter 2009 – Airbnb
  • Summer 2008 – Cloudant
  • Summer 2007 – Dropbox
  • Winter 2007 – Weebly
  • Summer 2006 – Scribd
  • Winter 2006 – Clustrix
  • Summer 2005 – ClickFacts