Jim Breyer on Accel’s Investments for the Next Decade

Look global, think entertainment, capitalize on the rise of a worldwide middle class and take advantage of the cloud.

This is the simplest way to summarize Accel Partners’ investment themes for the next five to 10 years, at least through the eyes of Partner Jim Breyer.

And where will the firm make its investments? In the United States, China, India, Brazil, Russia and elsewhere. But according to Breyer, Accel believes 50% of the capital gains generated over the next 10 years will be United States-based and 50% will be China-based.

Breyer offered his assessment of the firm’s opportunities during an on-stage interview at the Venture Summit Silicon Valley, where he was named venture capitalist of the year. The honor, not surprisingly, is largely due to Accel’s Facebook investment.

But other than Breyer’s observation that he overpaid by 25% in order to secure his first deal with Mark Zuckerberg, the most interesting things he said at the Half Moon Bay conference revealed Accel’s view of the investment landscape.

First off, Accel has deliberately become a global investor. The firm had seven partners in 2000 and all were based in Palo Alto. There are still seven partners in this Silicon Valley headquarters. But there are another 30 elsewhere in the world, Breyer said.

(Breyer went on to drop the tantalizing hint that more partners will soon be added. He said the firm would shortly add a couple new young partners in their 20s, but offered no additional detail.)

The firm’s global strategy is designed in part to capitalize on opportunities created by the rise of a global middle class and on the belief that centers of excellence will develop around the globe. Well over half the money the firm invests in the next five to 10 years will be outside the United States, he said.

In terms of sectors of interest, Breyer named entertainment, where the melding of content and technology will change the corporate landscape. Accel’s investments around content and entertainment over the next five years will be more “than we ever thought possible,” he said.

Similarly, the development of a new stack of open source cloud technology is shifting the economics of data centers in a way that is “unstoppable,” Breyer said.

Photo of Jim Breyer taken by Mark Boslet.