Last year, we celebrated the 35th anniversary of Accel’s founding. And as much as our industry and business have changed over those decades, it is remarkable how consistent our guiding philosophies have been. The way we practice investing has evolved with necessity over time, but our core principles have remained constant since 1983.
It Begins with Team
When Arthur Patterson and Jim Swartz first started Accel, they made a conscious choice not to put their names on the door. We’ve built our team and our culture around the root of that concept, which is to place a premium on collaboration, putting the group ahead of the individual, and developing great investors from within. This emphasis on cohesive culture manifests itself in many ways, and is evidenced by the fact that our U.S. managing partners have been investing together as a team for over a decade. In fact, 9 of the 11 partners on our U.S. team started their careers at Accel as associates or principals, eventually growing into their partner roles.
Preparations and Focus
Every day, our team’s collaboration is central to what we do, and one way this is reflected is in our preparation and our focus. This means doing the work up front and developing deep views on current technology themes, informed by primary research, and sharing them across our global team of investors. Our preparation has led us to Atlassian, Cloudera, CrowdStrike, Dropbox, Qualtrics, Squarespace, Tenable, and dozens of other category-defining technology companies, long before the world understood the impact that they would have. Our focus purely on seed and Series A venture and bootstrapped growth equity enables us to spend time on what really matters, and to strip away all the competing distractions so that we can work to help extraordinary entrepreneurs build transformational companies.
Prepared investing enables us to have firm conviction to back teams and ideas in the very earliest stages in their journeys. In fact, over the last 10 years, Accel has been the initiating or lead investor in over 70% of our portfolio companies, including several like Cloudera and Heptio which were founded within our own four walls. In some cases, like with Jet.com and Slack, we’ve been able to back return founders from our network from seed through every subsequent round. Our primary objective is to be the very first investor in our companies, take active, constructive roles with founders, and work patiently side-by-side to build incredible businesses. No short cuts. No company is too early and no check is too small.
A Silicon Valley State of Mind
Our heart has always been (and will be) in Silicon Valley, and investing here is the focal point of our strategy. It’s most likely that Accel’s next investment will be in our own backyard—still being the first to back remarkable founders at a company’s inception.
Yet one cannot ignore the explosion of technology entrepreneurship around the world, and this has fundamentally altered the way we view investing. More than just opening Accel offices in London and Bangalore, investing with a global mindset means having deeply immersed local teams who are connecting with the next generation of entrepreneurs everywhere. We seek to be the first investor in the best companies wherever they may be, from Baltimore to Bucharest to Bangalore.
Regardless of location, you will find a similar hunger and drive to shape the future across all the entrepreneurs in our portfolio. They serve as evidence that today, Silicon Valley is more than a geography: It is a state of mind.
On to the Next 35
We are more optimistic than ever about the global entrepreneurship opportunity. That's why today we’re excited to announce that we’ve closed our latest series of U.S. venture capital funds totaling $2.5 billion to invest in exceptional people and the next set of category defining businesses. We can’t wait to see what’s next.
We could not have gotten to where we are today without the support of the entire Accel family. Beyond our global team, this also includes our limited partners, many of whom have supported us for over 30 years. Thank you. We deeply appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your incredible missions, and are always conscious of the responsibility that you’ve placed upon us.
Most of all, we are indebted to the immensely talented people who do the difficult and admirable (if not simply daring) work of building companies from scratch—companies and people with whom we are eternally grateful partners.
—The Accel Team