Accel Partners has a long, and well-known history of making solid investment bets on popular consumer facing web and mobile platforms, including Facebook, Groupon, Etsy, Trulia and Angry Birds. But the firm is also making significant movements in the enterprise cloud storage and infrastructure space with investments in Cloudera, Couchbase, Nimble, Springsource, Atlassian, and DropBox. The fact is much of the core infrastructure that is provided by many of these enterprise companies provides a foundation for consumer facing companies. Today, Accel is adding a seasoned executive in the infrastructure and storage industries with Kirk Bowman joining as a venture partner in the company’s Silicon Valley office.
Prior to Accel, Bowman was the executive vice president of field operations at data storage system company Equallogic, which was acquired by Dell in 2008 for $1.4 billion. Bowman was also executive vice president of field operations at VMware and held sales executive and general management positions a number of enterprise companies including ModelN, Parametric Technology and Inktomi.
Additionally, Bowman lectures at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where he teaches a course in building and managing professional sales organizations. And he is currently an investor in and board member on severalIT infrastructure and cloud companies, including Nimble Storage, Delphix, and Coverity.
At Accel, Bowman says he will work closely with existing and new portfolio companies that deal with software and IT infrastructure.
Accel Partner Ping Li tells us that the firm currently has around 4 to 5 partners who are spending the majority of their time on enterprise investments. Li says that with the proliferation of data on the web, there’s a movement towards providing technologies to help companies mitigate this data overload. The two big trends that are taking place in the enterprise storage space, says Li, are how businesses can efficiently store massive amounts of data and how companies can extract value from this data.
Bowman agrees with Li, and explains that there is still a lot of room for innovation around storage and enterprise infrastructure. He tells us “cloud-based storage will dominate certain segments of the enterprise, and other segments will be dominated by on-premise.” And he believes we are still in the early stages of developing new IT architecture.
Accel isn’t the only venture firm to staff up on seasoned enterprise talent of late. Andreessen Horowitz also recently added former Veritas and Citrix Exec Peter Levine as a venture partner, in the effort to have expertise in virtualization and data storage investments.
Data storage and cloud platform are both spaces where there are a number of major exits and massive growth taking place. HP acquired 3Par for a whopping $2.4 billion and EMC just acquired Ipsilon for a cool $2.25 billion. DropBox (which is an Accel portfolio company) and Box.net are both growing fast, and could be major acquisition targets in the future.