Accel closes on $3B across three funds as it ramps up global investing

Accel announced Tuesday the close of three new funds totaling $3.05 billion, money that it will be using to back early-stage startups, as well as growth rounds for more mature companies. Notably, the 38-year-old Silicon Valley-based venture firm is doubling down on global investing.

The announcement underscores both the robust confidence investors continue to have for backing startups in the tech sector and the amount of money available to startups these days.

Specifically, today Accel is announcing its 15th early-stage U.S. fund at $650 million; its seventh early-stage European and Israeli fund also at $650 million and its sixth global growth stage fund at $1.75 billion. The latter fund is in addition, and designed to complement, a previously unannounced $2.3 billion global “Leaders” fund that is focused on later-stage investing that Accel closed in December.

Accel expects to invest in about 20 to 30 companies per fund on average, according to Partner Rich Wong. Its average investment in its growth fund will be in the $50 million to $75 million range, and $75 million and $100 million out of its global Leaders fund.

But the firm is also still eager and “excited” to incubate companies, Wong said.

“We’ll still write $500,000 to $1 million seed checks,” he told TechCrunch. “It’s important to us to work with companies from the very beginning and support them through their entire journey.”

Indeed, as TechCrunch recently reported, Accel has a history of backing companies that were previously bootstrapped (and often profitable) -– the latest example being Lower, a Columbus, Ohio-based fintech, which just raised a $100 million Series A.

Interestingly, Accel is often referred to some of these companies by existing portfolio companies (also in the case of Lower, whose CEO was referred to Accel by Galileo Clay Wilkes). More often than not, companies that Accel backs out of its early-stage and growth funds are bootstrapped and located outside of Silicon Valley.

The venture firm has long looked outside of Silicon Valley for opportunities, and has had offices not only in the Bay Area, but in London and Bangalore for years. Part of its investment thesis is to “invest early and locally,” according to Wong. Examples of this philosophy include investments in companies based all over the world — from Mexico to Stockholm to Tel Aviv to Munich.

Since the time of its last fund closure in 2019, the firm has seen 10 portfolio companies go public, including Slack, Austin-based Bumble, Bucharest-based UiPath, CrowdStrike, PagerDuty, Deliveroo and Squarespace, among others.

It also had 40 companies experience an M&A, including Utah-based Qualtrics’s $8 billion acquisition by SAP and Segment’s $3.2 billion acquisition by Twilio. Also, just last week, Rockwell Automation announced it was buying Michigan-based Plex Systems for $2.22 billion in cash. Accel first invested in Plex, which has developed a subscription-based smart manufacturing platform, in 2012.

Recent investments include a number of fintech companies such as LatAm’s Flink, Berlin-based Trade Republic, Unit and Robinhood rival Public. Accel has also backed as existing portfolio companies such as Webflow, a software company that helps businesses build no-code websites and events startup Hopin.

Wong says Accel is “open-minded but thematic” in its investment approach.

Accel Partner Sonali de Rycker, who is based out of London, agrees.

“For example, we’ll look at automation companies, consumer businesses and security companies, but at a global scale. Our goal is to find the best entrepreneurs regardless of where they are,” she said.

That has only been intensified by the recent rise of the smartphone and cloud, Wong said.

“Before, companies were mostly selling to the consumer in their own country,” he added. “But now the size of the market is so dramatically bigger, allowing them to become even larger, which is one of the reasons why I believe we’re seeing investment pace at this speed.”

To support this, it’s notable that Accel’s global Leaders fund is “dramatically” larger than the $500 million Leaders fund the firm closed in 2019.

Also, de Rycker points out, companies are staying private longer so the opportunity to invest in them until they sell or go public is greater.

Accel is also patient. In some cases, the firm’s investors will develop “years-long” relationships with companies they are courting.

“1Password is an example of this approach,” Wong said. “Arun [Mathew] had that relationship for at least six years before that investment was made. Finally, 1Password called and said ‘We’re ready, and we want you to do it.’ ”

And so Accel led the Canadian company’s first external round of funding in its 14-year history — a $200 million Series A — in 2019. 

While the firm is open-minded, there are still some industries it has not yet embraced as much as others. For example, Wong said, “We’re not announcing a $2.2 billion crypto fund, but we have done crypto investments, and see some very interesting trends there. We’ll look at where crypto takes us.”