Accel Raises Its Voice, Hires Yelp Marketing Guru Ichinose

In yet another sign of the importance of marketing in an increasingly noisy startup world, Accel Partners today announced that it has hired Stephanie Ichinose, formerly Yelp‘s Senior Director of Communications, as its marketing partner. In the new role, Ichinose will be responsible for the firm’s brand and help portfolio companies with their strategic positioning and communications.

“Hiring a true professional like Stephanie, who has helped a company from Series A to IPO and beyond, will further enhance our ability to help our entrepreneurs increase their position in the marketplace,” Accel Partner Rich Wong said in a statement (see below).

Much has been made of the successful marketing efforts of Andreessen Horowitz, which named top PR exec Margit Wennmachers a partner in June 2010. She previously co-founded OutCast Communications, whose clients included the likes of Facebook and Andreessen Horowitz.

While it isn’t new for VCs to have a marketing pro on staff, they appear to have stepped up their efforts in the past year or so. PeHUB sister publication Venture Capital Journal reported in January that at least eight firms hired new PR people or bolstered their marketing efforts in 2012, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lightspeed Venture Partners and True Ventures.

Jennifer Jones, a veteran marketer who represents a number of venture firms, including Menlo Ventures, says a key part of VC firms’ marketing efforts is to boost deal flow. “For many firms, marketing themselves is about getting entrepreneurs to come to them rather than other firms,” Jones told VCJ. “A lot of firms historically haven’t paid attention to it, but more of them are now asking, ’What do we need to do to stand out?’”

(VCJ subscribers can read the full story here.)


Accel Partners Hires Stephanie Ichinose, former Senior Director of Communications at Yelp, as First Marketing Partner To Join The Firm


Palo Alto, CA – April 11, 2013

Accel Partners, a leading Silicon Valley venture capital firm focusing on early stage and growth equity investments, today announced the addition of Yelp’s Senior Director of Communications Stephanie Ichinose, as Marketing Partner. She will be responsible for managing the Accel Partners brand and advising entrepreneurs in the Accel portfolio on their strategic positioning and communications strategies.
With more than 17 years of experience in driving communications for companies like Yelp, Yahoo! and Sony Computer Entertainment America, Stephanie brings a diverse range of brand building experience to the team.

Stephanie was hired on as Yelp’s first communications strategist in 2006, and was an integral part of the company in it’s growth from Series A to IPO, and now a $1.6 billion company. As the company grew from 17 employees to more than 1,300 employees, she scaled the communications team to support the rapidly expanding business. Most notably she drove strategic positioning, brand messaging, media training for Yelp’s massive community management team, and product releases (dotcom, mobile apps and mobile web) among other things.

Prior to Yelp, Stephanie oversaw communications for Yahoo!’s Search and Marketplace business unit where she also worked closely with entrepreneurs from acquisition announcements such as Flickr, and She was also a key member of the Sony Computer Entertainment America PR team that launched the PlayStation2 in the US.

“I would like to thank Yelp for an amazing seven years. While I am extremely proud of the team and all that we’ve accomplished, I could not be more excited to join Accel Partners as their first Marketing Partner”, said Stephanie Ichinose, Marketing Partner. “Accel has clearly been one of the top global venture capital firms over the past decade, playing a major role in supporting and guiding some of the fastest growing companies across the consumer and enterprise space”

Accel Partners’ portfolio includes a wide range of consumer and enterprise startups such as: Facebook, Etsy, Spotify, Angry Birds (Rovio), Supercell, VoxMedia, Cloudera, Dropbox, Atlassian Software, Riverbed, Qliktech, Nimble Storage, Braintree, Qualtrics, and many others

“I look forward to working with entrepreneurs that are building some of the most exciting technology companies in the world. ” said Ichinose.

“We are thrilled to have Stephanie join our team. She is an internet expert with over 17 years of experience in communications, including helping to formulate and evolve a company’s communication strategy from its infancy through a successful IPO and onto life as a public company,” said Andrew Braccia, Accel Partner. “We believe that Stephanie’s experience and expertise is a market differentiator as she helps Accel’s current and future portfolio companies navigate those same strategies.”

“While Accel has a long history of helping their portfolio companies from all corners of the world raise their global visibility, hiring a true professional like Stephanie, who has helped a company from Series A to IPO and beyond, will further enhance our ability to help our entrepreneurs increase their position in the marketplace,” said Rich Wong, Accel Partner.

Accel Background

Founded in 1983, and managing over $9.6 billion in capital, Accel Partners has a long history of partnering with outstanding entrepreneurs and management teams to build world-class businesses. Accel today invests globally using dedicated teams and market-specific strategies for local geographies, with offices in Palo Alto, California, New York City, London, and Bangalore, as well as in China via its partnership with IDG-Accel.

Accel has helped entrepreneurs build over 300 successful technology companies, many of which have defined their categories, including 99designs, Actuate, AdMob, Agile Software, Alfresco, Angry Birds (Rovio), Atlassian, BBN, Bonobos, Braintree, Brightcove, Cloudera, ComScore, (Quidsi), Dropbox, Etsy,, Facebook, Flipkart, Fusion-IO, Gameforge, GlamMedia, Groupon, Imperva, Infinera, Interwoven, IronPlanet, JBoss, Kayak, Lookout, Macromedia, metroPCS, MoPub, Myntra, OPOWER, Polycom/PictureTel, Playfish, Portal Software, QlikTech,Rapt, Real Networks, Redback, Responsys, Riverbed, Spotify, Squarespace, SunRun, Trulia, UUNet, Veritas,, Webroot, Wonga, XenSource and Zimbra.