Social Connections: the Business of the Business

One time I bought a designer vintage dress because I loved it, but more than that, it was a smashing good deal. I paid $80 for it and I could easily sell it on eBay for $200.

I know, that's not a huge return, but I feel pretty good about it. Plus, like I said, I really like the dress and the designer. So I'm a sucker for a feel-good-growth-investment opportunity.

I think Jim Breyer is too. Back in 2011, a Forbes writer interviewed Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, a global venture and growth equity firm whose specialty is identifying technology-focused companies with potential to define new categories. The Forbes writer, Nicole Perlroth, seemed a bit smitten by the man known for tracking down promising digital opportunities and then matching them up with proper suitors in the investment world. She called him the "comeback kid," which is ironic, considering he works for Accel Partners; founded by Arthur Patterson and Jim Schwartz in 1983.

The real ironic part is that back in 2005, the boyishly handsome, soft smiling blue eyed Jim Breyer (Nicole's words, not mine) was struggling. His company, Accel lost some serious funding opportunities and turned to a bold move of investing $12.2 millions on "a website run by a college dropout,"said Bloomberg's Ari Levy. Apparently, Breyer saw potential in the vintage dress social network and wanted to see it flourish. I'm sure he was a bit smitten by their value prop as well. It's well believed that Accel's investment in the early Facebook business may in fact be the biggest return on investment ever for a venture firm. That's pretty awesome. And best of all, it's a story of human success. As people, we love that shit.

To date, Accel Partners has grown it's portfolio to be $9.6 billion in assets under management, according to a recent article in WSJ that detailed another Accel-backed mobile technology venture, Pixate, a free agile development mobile platform for developers. Other successful investments include Brightcove, Bonobos, Responsys, Groupon, AdMob, Dropbox, Glam Media, Spotify, Etsy, Angry Birds, Kayak, Walmart.com and many more. 

Breyer himself is worth approximately $1.2 billion, according to Forbes, and he has been named as one of the most influential minds in tech. He also decided to step down from the boards at Walmart, Dell and Facebook earlier this year. No real reports have detailed his next bold move, but I for one, hope it involves rest, relaxation, family and a little dose of reality. Maybe finally wearing that vintage dress for a dance or two. (Me, not him. Not that there is anything wrong with that...) The fast paced world of tech and the neck-break speed VC's need to maintain makes for a difficult human perspective, one would imagine. And there doesn't seem to be a slow in the scene along the digital journey.  

Why just yesterday, Ryan Holmes, founder of Hootsuit, sent me a Linkedin note about his company's latest news. After acquiring it's biggest competitor last year (Seesmic), it seems Hootsuit may have a trick up it's digital sleeve. Watch out TweetDeck and all your Twitter wonder you are working on. A partner in the deal, Accel joined up with Insight Venture Partners and OMERS Ventures by dropping a record-setting investment of $165 million in Ryan's social relationship -- otherwise known as social media management -- platform. (It is very nice, btw.) You can read more at the company's blog.  You can check out all the staffers smiles below. 


It's another digitally interesting story of human success, really. The most interesting part to me, of course, is the users who use these technologies, the engineers who create and the investors who fund it all. Congratulations Pixate, team Hootsuit and Jim Breyer. May your contributions make it easier and better to enjoy life through connecting, including a little dancing now and then.

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