Silicon Valley veteran Jim Breyer’s investment in Facebook in 2005 at 5 cents a share helped Accel IX become the best performing fund in venture capital history and made him a billionaire. After an illustrious stint at Accel Partners, he founded Breyer Capital. He has invested in over 40 consumer internet and technology companies, several of which have returned 100x their initial investment. His most recent exit was from Legendary Entertainment, which was acquired by China’s Dalian Wanda Group for $3.5 billion in January this year. He believes artificial intelligence is the next big thing and that’s what Breyer Capital is focused on.
>> You usually have entrepreneurial experience and then you get into venture capital. What made you choose venture capital right after business school and how did the stint at Accel Partners shape your investing approach?
I started right out of business school as an associate. My graduating class at Harvard Business School, 1987 still holds the all-time record for the most students going to Wall Street. I went to Silicon Valley. I joined Accel as an associate and I thought I would stay for two years then start my own company. But I stayed for 27 years as an associate partner and managing partner and had a wonderful experience. The most wonderful thing that I have learnt at Accel is that we can make 1000x the money if we pick the right team and build something sustainable. That’s the lesson I have learnt: do our very best and play long-term.
>> What is it that you look for when you assess teams and what they are building?
Breyer Capital focuses on Series-A and perhaps Series-B, investing at a very early stage and that’s what I love. So, I am looking for entrepreneurs who balance confidence with humility. I look at the strength of the engineering team and the vision that’s driving them, whether they are building something that really works and has the potential to transform an industry. I am looking for technical teams that are not just an A or A+ but a technical team in certain areas of algorithms, machine intelligence that are top 2 or 3 in the world at worse. I am looking for technical passion. In some cases, I am looking for domain expertise combined with very deep analytics and a love for software and algorithms. I look at 10,000 business plans a year and I meet at least 1,000 e