Dave McClure’s accelerator 500 Startups is expanding its presence and expertise both at home and abroad by promoting George Kellerman, its investment lead for Japan, to partner, and opening a coworking space in the Flatiron District of New York City.
To round out what’s already a busy news day for the company, the program is also adding Parker Thompson of the software development company Pivotal Labs as a venture partner. Parker will head up a San Francisco office that will open in the next few months.
Okay, that’s a lot to take in. But founding partner Christine Tsai emphasizes that it all plays a role in the company’s commitment to finding and funding international startups. “George (Kellerman) works closely with our Japanese portfolio companies but also with global partners,” Tsai says, citing 500 Startups’ recently-announced partnership with DoCoMo to build a mobile-focused incubator in Japan. “With Parker (Thompson) joining and expanding 500′s presence into San Francisco, we expect that to certainly attract both Silicon Valley/San Francisco companies, but also international founders who’d rather be in San Francisco.”
Accelerator programs are a dime-a-dozen these days, but 500 Startups’ huge international focus helps it stand out from the crowd. While based in Silicon Valley, the program has investment heads in Mexico and Brazil, it hosts events Germany, Russia, Turkey, and Israel, and one of its last batch of companies was so international that we had to literally map them all out.
And as for the New York announcement? I talked to New York investment head Shai Goldman who says it doesn’t matter how plugged into a city’s startup culture you are if you don’t have a 24/7 physical presence there. Otherwise you miss out on the kind of serendipitous connections that occur in an ecosystem as heavily-concentrated as New York.
“There’s close proximity of startups (in New York),” Goldman says. “You run into people all the time at restaurants and coffee shops.”
500 Startups has made 38 investments in New York-based startups over its three-year existence. Expect that ratio to go way up.
[Image via 500 Startups]