Summary List PlacementThe race to find and fund entrepreneurs in Europe who will build the next multibillion-dollar startups is heating up.
Venture-capital firm Accel has raised $3.05 billion across three new funds, as its European arm sees growing competition from US funds setting up shop in Europe and new players such as hedge funds entering venture.
It has raised a $650 million early-stage Europe and Israel fund, a $650 million US early-stage fund, and a $1.75 billion global growth fund.
Big companies in Accel's European portfolio include software startup UiPath, which went public in April; UK food-delivery firm Deliveroo, which went public in March; and Hopin, the year-old live-events startup that is already valued at almost $6 billion.
The US fund is Accel's 15th to date. Since opening its London office in 2000, Accel has become one of the biggest early-stage backers of European startups.
"We've been on the ground for two decades now and have seen a number of winners emerge across several technology cycles, but never at the pace we're experiencing now," partner Harry Nelis said in a statement.
Doubling down on Europe
There are now 49 unicorns — companies worth above $1 billion — in Europe and Israel, up from just five in 2015 and zero in 2010, data from Dealroom indicated.
"When I joined Accel nine years ago there were very few unicorns. Now, there are more than 200, with several valued at more than $5 billion, and some decacorns, too," partner Seth Pierrepont said, referring to companies worth above $10 billion. "It's been great to have had a front-row seat to that, and it's exciting to double down on these incredible companies coming out of Europe."
Events startup Hopin, which took an early check from Accel, is a prime example of the supercharged environment in Europe. The startup was incorporated in June 2019 by Johnny Boufarhat, its 27-year-old founder. Eight months later, Accel announced that it was leading Hopin's seed round. Now two years old, the company has raised $571.4 million, is valued at $5.65 billion, and counts backers such as Andreessen Horowitz and Tiger Global on its cap table.
Accel also faces growing competition as traditionally US-focused funds such as Sequoia, Lightspeed, and Bessemer set up offices in Europe. Accel lost one of its own rising stars, Luciana Lixandru, last March when she left to become Sequoia's first European partner.
Venture-capital funding is also hitting record highs. The first quarter of 2021 saw global funding go above $100 billion for the first time, with an average of one new unicorn created every two working days, Crunchbase data indicated.
Asked about staying competitive despite the heightened market conditions, Pierrepont said: "We have to stay disciplined as prices go up because VC is a hits-driven business. We're looking for category winners like Snyk or UiPath and looking to invest as much capital as you can in the early stage and growth."
Accel plans to focus on Series A investing across the geographies it operates in, but may also look at seed and Series B rounds in exceptional circumstances. Its growth fund could be used to support later-stage funding rounds as part of a "seed to IPO" approach. The fund helps portfolio companies hire senior talent, provides operational advice, and can help with networking introductions. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The shortest route for a road trip across the US to see 50 national landmarks