Accel closes 1st Euro fund

Accel Partners is closing its dedicated European fund at $500 million, a year after announcing the appointment of Kevin Comolli, the firm’s first European partner. The Accel Europe Fund, which has been raising since the end of last year, will invest in Israeli and European start-ups in the communications, software and Internet sectors. Also, two additional European partners have been recruited.

Accel Partners is based in Silicon Valley, where it has chalked up 18 years’ experience, and will apply the same strategies to European investments. Comolli said: “We didn’t have to re-invent ourselves to invest in Europe. Our approach fits in nicely with the indigenous technologies.” He sees the group’s “one-firm” attitude as key to its success. European portfolio companies will be able to call on the skills, knowledge, resources and contacts of the whole firm.

In February, Accel opened its only European office in London and currently has no plans to expand. Instead the company will focus on integrating itself into the European venture arena. It plans to establish a network here, building on existing relationships with companies such as Cisco Systems, Compaq, Dell, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun. Comolli also says: “Accel will partner with regional venture firms throughout Europe to create a complementary investment team when appropriate.” He adds: “We’re here to make friends not enemies.”

The two new London-based partners joining Comolli are Joe Golden, who was previously managing director of business development and strategic alliances with Cisco Systems for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Kaj-Erik Relander, formerly the president and chief executive officer of Sonera. Jim Swartz, general partner and co-founder of Accel also regularly spends time in the London office.

Accel has already made undisclosed investments from the European fund. The most recent of these investments involves an Irish business established by the founder of a NASDAQ-listed software company.

The fund will focus its activities on companies in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and Israel but not to the exclusion of other European opportunities. Investing across a number of rounds, the fund will commit around $10 million to $15 million to each company.

According to Comolli the fund’s investors, which will not be named, include a number of institutions and families from Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the UK and Ireland. Investors from the Middle East and Australia have also contributed alongside University funds, high net worth individuals, fund-of-funds and private and public pension funds from the US.