It’s weird how good news for VCs seems to have come in pairs.
This morning, Electronic Arts said it’s buying social gaming company Playfish for up to $400 million in cash and stock, and a couple hours later Google announced that it’s buying mobile ad network Admob for $750 million. The common thread? Accel Partners, which invested in both companies.
Previously, Accel’s Jim Breyer was behind two big acquisitions on Sept. 1: Raytheon‘s acquisition of BBN Technologies, and Disney’s acquisition of Marvel for $4 billion (though neither came from a standard early-stage venture investment).
We don’t know exactly how much Accel made in the Playfish and Admob deals, but with the exit price amounting to more than 10 times the venture capital invested ($21 million for Playfish, a little more than $47 million for AdMob), we can be pretty sure that the folks at Accel are pretty pleased.
Accel partner Richard Wong (top left), who sits on AdMob’s board of directors (and is an occasional contributor to VentureBeat), is probably feeling particularly giddy right now. We reached him this morning, and his first words were “I’m frickin’ tired.” He’s been working hard to close the Admob deal, which was grueling because Google hadn’t been the only suitor. It’s also a sweet victory because Wong joined Accel in 2006, and was widely seen as a replacement of sorts for Peter Fenton, who left for Benchmark Capital before Wong arrived, and had done pretty well.
Fenton saw two exits himself in August, and Wong may have been feeling the pressure. Now, hitting a $750 million exit within three years of joining the venture capital industry — and yes, that’s extremely rare for this industry — Wong can be breathing a sigh of relief. It’s a spectacular result.
So where’s Wong investing now? Notably, he shows signs of diversifying from mobile. He’s been sniffing around lately in clean tech, having backed solar company SunRun. (Indeed, he’s joining our GreenBeat conference next week, where he’ll be an expert judging our Innovation Competition).
Finally, it may be worth noting that the success of Accel Partners is returning the firm to “top-dog” status in Silicon Valley along with firms like Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins and Benchmark. Sequoia, which had emerged in the last few years as the valley’s most respected firm, has lost its buzz and focus of late — though clearly the Admob deal today was a success for Sequoia too. But Accel still has the Valley’s hottest company, Facebook, on its books. Breyer (left) is on the Facebook board. Within a couple of years, that could soon yield a multi-billion dollar exit — that is, if Facebook holds everything together.