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UiPath Backer Accel Reaped $5.9 Billion From $172 Million Bet

Sarah McBride
·2-min read

(Bloomberg) -- The $1.3 billion stock market debut of automation software maker UiPath Inc. had an unusually rich reward for one early backer.

Accel, the venture capital firm that helped launch companies from Facebook Inc. to Dropbox Inc., started the day with a stake worth $5.9 billion at UiPath’s listing price. It sold a small chunk of shares, the filings show, but that still left Accel with more than enough to benefit from the company’s 23% gain during the trading day.

“We love all our companies, but the math is the math,” said Accel partner Rich Wong, whose firm who led the roughly $20 million initial investment in the company in 2017. “We are fortunate to be part of it,” said Wong, a board member at UiPath. Generally, venture capitalists consider anything that returns ten times the invested cash an extraordinarily good outcome.

Accel spent $172 million accumulating UiPath shares over the years, including the initial investment led by former partner Luciana Lixandru. As the firm’s commitment grew, it got a second board seat, with London-based partner Philippe Botteri joining in 2020. Accel is the second-biggest shareholder in UiPath after the company’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Dines.

UiPath came across Accel’s radar via its initial investor, Berlin-based Earlybird Venture Capital, which alerted Accel’s London office. Then the courtship of Dines began.

“We chased him around the globe,” recalled Wong, including to Bucharest, where the company was founded and still has the bulk of its employees, and to a technology conference in Tokyo. UiPath is headquartered in New York.

Although Silicon Valley venture firms now like to highlight investments they’ve made outside of Silicon Valley, and Wong embraced that trend much earlier than most. Among his firm’s successes are Atlassian Corp., a software company founded in Australia, and Spotify Technology SA, the music streaming service based in Sweden. Wong is also a board member of Instabug Inc., an Egyptian company now based in San Francisco that monitors app performance.

“Coming from a relatively small country, coming from a place that seemed relatively unlikely for a big tech company to come from, we are attracted to that kind of company,” Wong said. “Increasingly, Silicon Valley isn’t defined by the physical geography, but a mindset.”

(Updates with Accel’s initial investment in the fourth paragraph)

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