Photographer: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images

Global VC Firm Accel Hires Facebook Exec to Expand Into Israel

  • Fund brings on Nir Blumberger to focus on Israeli startups
  • Most international funds don’t put down roots in Israel

Israeli-born Nir Blumberger will leave his executive post at Facebook Inc. to join Accel as a venture partner and open an office in Tel Aviv to focus on an ecosystem the global venture capital firm said is flourishing with bold ideas and mature entrepreneurs.

Accel Partners has previously backed Facebook, Dropbox Inc., Spotify Ltd. and Slack Technologies Inc., among others. Blumberger, previously a corporate development executive at Facebook responsible for global mergers and acquisitions and strategy, said he will be looking for bold and diverse ideas that can be scaled into “world-class companies.”

Accel has offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California, as well as London and Bangalore, and has invested more than $350 million in Israel since 2002. Its investments include the now publicly traded cybersecurity company Imperva Inc., global services marketplace Fiverr and data governance solutions provider Varonis Systems Inc.

“We see the pace of innovation has accelerated and the best way to cover the market is to have someone who is a core part of the Accel London team physically on the ground,” partner Sonali De Rycker said in an interview by phone.

Some industry advocates would like to see more local investment but De Rycker says Accel works closely with Israeli funds. “We like to partner,” she said. “These are long journeys.”

“There are more and more serial entrepreneurs,” added De Rycker. “The ecosystem is maturing.”

Accel will join the few international funds with offices in Israel, including Bessemer Venture Partners, New Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Battery Ventures. Last year, 131 foreign venture funds made at least one investment in Israel according to IVC Research Center, which monitors the industry.

Earlier this year, Accel announced it had raised several new funds including $1.5 billion earmarked for growth stage investments, a $500 million fund for early stage investing, and a new $500 million fund targeting European and Israeli startups. The firm currently has $2.5 billion committed to Europe and Israel, with additional amounts split between the U.S. and India.

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