WARSAW, March 25 (Reuters) – Poland’s National Chamber of Appeals (KIO) ruled that local firms Rafako and Mostostal Warszawa should carry out a $1.7 billion contract for utility Tauron, rejecting…
Accel Partners has just this morning announced another hefty fund of $475 million. It’s the company’s fourth fund for Accel London and will be used for investments across a wide range of technologies — consumer Internet, big data, cloud, SaaS and mobile among them – and primarily companies in Europe and Israel, at all stages of investment but focusing mainly on its “sweet spot” of Series A.
The news comes on the heels of reports in February that Accel was preparing to close a fund of $450 million.
The rumors, in fact, started at the end of last year, but with much bigger sums: French financial paper Les Echos reported in December that Accel was raising a fund of about three times as much, with $500 million going to Europe. But Kevin Comolli, the Accel London partner that helped open the VC’s office in the city 13 years ago, says this was a misfire.
“There is absolutely no truth to that,” he tells TechCrunch. “This is the first and final close.”
He says that this latest $475 million makes Accel London the largest VC fund in Europe now focused on early-stage technology, with about $2 billion raised since 2000. Accel London IV will be used, Comolli says, to invest across every stage of the game, from seed rounds of $500,000 through to growth rounds of $50 million. “But our classic sweet spot will remain Series A,” he says.
In that sense, this fund is an interesting development in the wider discussion the tech industry has been having about the so-called “Series A Crunch.” Comolli would not give his opinion on whether he thought that Accel, or Europe, was bucking that trend — or whether in fact the crunch issue has been overblown, or whether emphasizing Series A rounds is because of the proliferation of too much seed money going to too many companies, now needing their next round to go on. Instead, he sees this as continuing interest in the wider investment opportunity for tech in this part of the world.
“It’s great news for the industry because of a perceived sense of shortage of capital in this asset class,” he says. “This is about Series A, yes, but also limited capital partnerships. I can’t speak to other people’s fundraising but it’s a powerful statement to raise this quickly and be oversubscribed.”
The new fund is also a sign that there continues to be money swimming around looking for landing points in the European and Israeli tech sectors. And it’s an international interest: some 65% of the capital in London IV comes from US investors, says Comolli.
He says that the new fund will see Accel expanding its geographical focus more. “We’re interested in Eastern Europe more, and the Nordics have also been very active for us,” he notes. Gaming juggernaut Supercell, he points out, has had the biggest revenue and profit ramp that Accel has seen in its entire history. (Accel was one of Supercell’s earliest investors.)
First investments to come out of the new fund will be made in the second half of this year.
Accel is one of the bigger VCs active in Europe and it has been active in a number of investments worldwide. Exits include QlikTech, Playfish and Kayak, which it says represent an aggregate market capitalisation of over $4 billion. Other startups in its portfolio of 500 investments include Alfresco, Angry Birds maker Rovio, Avito, CHECK24, ForgeRock, Gameforge, Hailo, Mind Candy, Showroomprive, Spotify, Supercell, Varonis and Wonga.
Full release below.
ACCEL LONDON CLOSES $475 MILLION FUND TO BUILD ON STRONG PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE
Accel’s total funds under management for Europe and Israel now at $2 billion
March 21st, 2013 – London: Accel Partners, the leading global venture capital firm, today announced the first and final close of Accel London IV, a $475 million fund focused on Europe and Israel. The fund was raised with unprecedented speed and demand.
Accel London IV will build on the firm’s success across the region and invest in early and growth-stage technology companies in Accel’s core areas of expertise, including consumer Internet, big data, cloud, SaaS and mobile.
“The fact that Accel London IV was raised in eight weeks and was significantly over-subscribed is a powerful endorsement of Accel London and the market opportunity in Europe and Israel from our world-class investors,” said Kevin Comolli, Partner at Accel London.
Accel London’s team has a strong track record of success, which reflects the depth, breadth and balance of its investment and operating expertise. Accel London’s recent success stories include QlikTech, Playfish and Kayak, representing an aggregate market capitalisation of over $4 billion. Its current portfolio includes some of the largest and fastest-growing private technology companies in Europe, including Alfresco, Angry Birds (Rovio), Avito, CHECK24, ForgeRock, Gameforge, Hailo, Mind Candy, Showroomprive, Spotify, Supercell, Varonis and Wonga.
“Accel’s latest fund is excellent news for the European market. The London team’s deep local knowledge and experience, combined with Accel’s global network of resources and Silicon Valley heritage, make it unique amongst venture firms, offering a distinct advantage to entrepreneurs looking for a partner to help build a category-defining, world-class business,” said Lars Björk, CEO QlikTech. An Accel investment, QlikTech’s listing on NASDAQ resulted in a return of over $400 million to the Accel fund, one of the largest venture returns in Europe.
Harry Nelis, Partner at Accel London, said, “Europe has a strong talent base, including a growing community of repeat entrepreneurs, whose success, experience and ambition continue to fuel our ecosystem. Innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving in Europe and with technology hubs developing across the region, the next billion-dollar company could emerge from anywhere.”
The Accel London investment team includes Kevin Comolli, Sonali De Rycker, Bruce Golden, Harry Nelis, Philippe Botteri and Michiel Kotting.
BERLIN — Standard and Poor’s sees a high risk that Spain, Italy, Portugal and France will not be able to carry through necessary reforms as the unemployed become less willing to put up with austerity, S&P’s Germany head Torsten Hinrichs told a newspaper.
“The high unemployment in Spain, Italy and France is socially explosive,” Hinrichs was quoted as saying in Monday’s Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.
“There has to be a social consensus for saving measures. High unemployment … does not help.”
Hinrichs said the people of Spain and Portugal had already proven they were willing to bear with austerity measures, but “this cannot continue forever”.
In Italy, there was the further danger that “a new government may not be strong enough for the still necessary reforms to strengthen growth,” he said.
Hinrichs said S&P still rated Germany as a triple A with stable outlook and did not see any reason for concern: “It is one of the few AAA and stable countries that we still have in Europe”.
The weak profitability of the banking sector due to the profusion of banks was the only problem in Germany, he said, although he saw positive changes in the sector in terms of equity capital and refinancing.
© Thomson Reuters 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Years of newsroom cutbacks have had a demonstrable impact on the quality of digital, newspaper and television news and in how consumers view that work, a study released Monday found.
Nearly one-third of consumers surveyed by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism said they have abandoned a news outlet because it no longer gave them what they had counted on, either with fewer or less complete stories.
Pew’s annual State of the News Media report delivered what has become a common litany of grim business statistics. Television news viewership is down. Newsroom employment at newspapers is down 30 percent since a peak in 2000 and has gone below 40,000 people for the first time since 1978. Newsweek shut its print edition and Time magazine is cutting staff.
“These cutbacks are real,” said Amy Mitchell, the project’s acting director. “And based on the data that we’ve collected, they are having an effect.”
Government coverage on local television news has been cut in half since 2005, the study said. Sports, weather and traffic now account for 40 percent of the content on these broadcasts; yet that’s just the sort of information readily available elsewhere. That’s a recipe for future erosion, Mitchell said.
Forty-two percent of adults under age 30 counted themselves as regular local news viewers in 2006; last year that was down to 28 percent, the study found.
Cable news is increasingly cable talk, although it’s difficult to conclude whether that is because of financial considerations or the sense among executives of what viewers want. Over the last five years, CNN has sharply cut back on produced story packages and live event coverage, the study found.
During the presidential campaign, reporters increasingly acted as megaphones instead of investigators, Pew said. More stories are simply reporting verbatim what candidates or partisans were saying, rather than using those statements as a starting-off point to explore an issue.
There are many more places that people can go for news or information now. The question is whether consumers are leaving prominent news organizations because they are not getting what they want, or whether these outlets can no longer afford to give them more because consumers are leaving, said David Westin, former ABC News president.
“Increasingly, it’s not just a question of what people want,” said Westin, who presided over an era of cutbacks at ABC News. “It’s what people are willing to pay for.”
More organizations are experimenting with charging for digital content, which Mitchell called a positive sign. The Pew report said 450 of the nation’s 1,380 daily newspapers have started or announced plans for some kind of paid subscription model. Partly as a result, newspaper circulation stayed steady in 2012 after years of decline. Revenue continued to go down, though.
With newsroom cutbacks, some news organizations supplement their reporting through work funded through other sources, like ProPublica and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s service for reporting health news. When he was at ABC, Westin said the network accepted a grant from the Gates Foundation for reporting on subjects like the water supply in Africa it otherwise would not have been able to afford.
Pew’s survey of 2,000 consumers taken earlier this year revealed that a majority of people had little or no awareness that the news industry has financial problems. The people aware of the problems are the ones more likely to abandon a news outlet because they weren’t getting what they wanted.
Of the people who left a news outlet, 61 percent said that the stories were less complete than they had been, Pew said.
“We are at a point where we have to get back to quality and think about what we are giving people,” Mitchell said.