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Michael Moritz, Sequoia Capital

Michael J. Moritz has a habit of backing winners that others thought might be losers. The 49-year-old venture capitalist at Sequoia Capital funded upstart Google Inc. in 1999 when most pundits thought the search-engine winners already had been picked. But Moritz believed in Google's technology. "It's all too easy to identify the things that might go wrong with an investment," explains Moritz. "It's far more difficult to identify what might be possible." In spite of his high-risk approach, Moritz has maintained one of the best performing records in venture capital, even during the downturn.

Now he's gambling on Plaxo Inc. because he sees big potential in the startup's little idea of keeping electronic address books automatically up-to-date. Moritz is a reminder to the rest of the venture industry: safer isn't better. That's good news for tech's next generation of innovators.

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