Business Insider really jumped the shark with their recent post entitled These Are The Top 20 Tech Investors You Should Follow On Twitter. It was clearly linkbait for social media rather than real advice for those looking for investment wisdom. Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) as the top investor to follow on Twitter? Really? When the greatest investor of all time, Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett), is also on Twitter? Sure, Warren is new to Twitter and has only posted one link (to a fascinating article about why women are key to America’s prosperity), but when millions of investors hang on his every word, you’d think he’d get a mention. Ashton is great, but is he a better investor to pay attention to just because he has more “social media pull”?
This kind of story illustrates the vapidity of so much social media reporting. What does someone’s social media following have to do with whether or not they are worth following for investment advice?
I’d prefer to follow investors who are good investors and who share their investment strategy! That’s why I’d probably put Fred Wilson (@FredWilson) of Union Square Ventures (who was at an inexplicable number 19 on the Business Insider List) and his partners Brad Burnham (@BradUSV) and Alfred Wenger (@AlbertWenger) at the top. Not only are they among the most successful tech investors active today (Twitter, Tumblr, Zynga, Foursquare, Etsy, Kickstarter, to name only a few of their investments), but they clearly explain their rationale for investing, their criteria, and their interests.
Next up, I’d put my colleagues at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (@OATV), Bryce Roberts (@Bryce) and Renee DiResta (@noUpside). While I have a much bigger social media following (I was number 11 on the Business Insider list), I post much more about long-term tech and social trends than about investment. You’ll get much more practical investment advice and insight into our investing philosophy from Bryce and Renee!
Speaking of practical advice, Brad Feld (@bfeld) offers a constant stream of useful advice to startups. Eric Ries (@EricRies) is not primarily an investor, but he, too, is an amazing source of insight for anyone building a web or social media startup.
And if you are looking for the big disruptors of the venture capital industry, look no further than Paul Graham (@PaulG) of Y Combinator and Babak Nivi and Naval Ravikant of Venturehacks (@VentureHacks) and Angellist (@AngelList).
If there’s an investor to follow for a long-time horizon and a global perspective, it would have to be Esther Dyson (@edyson), an angel investor whose interests and investment choices are always light years ahead of everyone else.
And for the broad sweep of Internet industry statistics, how can you not include Mary Meeker of Kleiner, Perkins. Her annual Internet Trends Report is one of the most hotly awaited reads of the year for any Internet investor. You won’t find her tweeting, but her slides from D11 were all over Twitter yesterday!
I do love following some of the others who appear on the Business Insider list, like Jason Calacanis (@jason), Mark Cuban (@mcuban), Chris Sacca (@sacca), Evan Williams (@ev), Biz Stone (@biz), and Jack Dorsey (@jack), but I wouldn’t consider any of them but Jason and Mark people who primarily tweet insight for investors. If you’re going to follow them, you should add Marissa Mayer (@marissamayer) and Sheryl Sandberg (@sherylsandberg) to the list. Their decisions will probably shape as many venture exits as those of venture capitalists!
And even with this off-the-top-of-my-head list, I really have just focused on Internet investors. There’s a wealth of investment advice on Twitter, but finding the right people to follow has very little to do with how many Twitter followers they have!
Let us know in the comments what other investors you find worth following on Twitter – as anyone knows, when you’re seeking Alpha, it isn’t the people who have the most followers who matter. In fact, it’s the people who have insights that aren’t widely known who often have the edge.