Famed Accel leader Jim Breyer will spend less time at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm, instead focusing more time on person investments through his own Breyer Capital. That decision comes on the heels of the firm’s announcement that it had put together the $475 million Accel XII fund to concentrate primarily on early-stage investments, as well the $1 billion Accel Growth III funds, focused on primarily providing capital to companies looking to scale their businesses.
“This is a great day for Accel with the closing of Accel XII and Accel Growth Fund III,” Breyer wrote in an email to Forbes. “As a partner I am highly supportive of the next generation of leaders at Accel and plan to be actively involved with the new funds while also increasing my independent investment activity through my family office Breyer Capital.”
According to partner Sameer Gandhi, who spoke to Forbes on Wednesday, the funds will primarily focus on U.S. companies, particularly those in the Bay Area where the firm has uncovered so much success. Accel is perhaps best known for its early backing of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, which made the firm one of the largest shareholders in the social network at the time of its May 2012 initial public offering.
It was Breyer, who with partner Kevin Efrusy, pursued Zuckerberg and closed a $12.2 million investment into a site that was still called “Thefacebook” in 2005. That deal, which brought his firm’s fund a $6 billion gain, effectively propelled Breyer to billionaire status and to the top of the Midas List, Forbes’ annual rankings of the world’s top venture capitalists. He maintains an estimated net worth of $2 billion and has ranked No. 1 of the Midas List for the last three years.
In the past year, Breyer has stepped down from his more public positions. Last April, he announced his plans to depart the boards of Facebook, Wal-Mart and Dell all in the same week. He told Forbes at the time that, he felt he had “fufill[ed] his commitments” to each company and was looking to get back into investing.
“It is an exhilarating time to be an investor, a social entrepreneur or individual who hopes to make a positive difference in the world,” he said.
Breyer’s recent moves for Accel have been muted of late, the most notable an investment in Circle Internet Financial, which reunited him with Brightcove founder Jeremy Allaire. He and Partner Ping Li also led the firm’s seed investment into stealth payments company Clinkle.
Breyer also picked up two personal board seats in 2013. He was elected to the Harvard Corporation, the governing body of Harvard University, in Feb. 2013. He also joined the board of 21st Century Fox, one of two companies created out of News Corporation last year, and sits on the board of Circle.
Accel looks to continue strongly even without Breyer’s continued leadership. It’s 12th early-stage fund matches the size of Accel XI, while Accel Growth III is bigger than its $875 million predecessor.
“It’s a very focused effort on early-stage,” said Gandhi, who pointed to Accel’s traditional strategy. “[It's] an effort led by a relatively compact U.S. team, thinking about disruptive and innovative early-stage companies.”
Reporting was contributed from Alex Konrad in New York.
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