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Smartest investor: Jim Breyer
Accel Partners

Long before Facebook became the juggernaut it is today -- Wall Street and Main Street alike are salivating over the prospect of a public offering -- Jim Breyer saw potential in the Sprite-drinking college dropout who founded it, Mark Zuckerberg. In 2005, Breyer led Accel's $12 million investment in the company, gearing up for the most anticipated initial public offering since Google -- and he threw in a million of his own.

Breyer has been on a roll lately. In one 24-hour period last fall, he led the sale of tech company BBN to defense company Raytheon, and then sold Marvel Entertainment (another company he backed with his own cash) to Disney. Since he landed in Silicon Valley shortly after graduating from Harvard Business School in 1987, Breyer has invested in 30 companies that have gone public or completed mergers. To place his bets, Breyer draws on the experience he gains as a Wal-Mart and Dell board member. (He also sits on small boards, like that of startup Etsy.) These days he's paying a lot of attention to companies that provide support to social networks. Never heard of gaming company Booyah? Breyer just invested in it, so chances are you soon will. --J.H.

NEXT: Investor runner-up: Marc Andreessen
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET
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