Exclusive: Christopher Lynch Leaving Boston VC Firm Accomplice
Christopher Lynch will leave his role as a general partner at Accomplice, a Cambridge, Mass.-based venture firm.
In an interview with Fortune, Lynch says he plans to dedicate himself to hack/reduce, and hack/secure, non-profits he created focused on the big data and cybersecurity tech communities, and his charity work with St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Lynch joined Atlas Venture in 2012. He was formerly CEO of Vertica, which sold to Hewlett Packard, and Acopia Networks, which sold to F5 Network. “Everybody in town said, ‘Lynch, you won’t last five minutes in venture. You’re not patient. You’re too outlandish,’” Lynch says. “On one hand, I said, ‘That’s probably right,’ and on the other hand, I said, ‘F*ck them, they’re not going to tell me what I can and can’t do.’”
He lasted five years. Now, he’s hitting the road, combining his non-profit work in the tech community with his involvement with the St. Baldricks Foundation, a pediatric cancer charity. He plans to travel on a tour bus from Boston to Austin, raising awareness and money for the charity. On the trip, he will offer his mentorship, access to his network, and his expertise to local entrepreneurs in hopes of attracting their support for the cause. “I’m using my brand and my profile and skills … in exchange for them getting educated around the problem of pediatric cancer,” he says.
Lynch will keep his Boston-based board seats, which are DataRobot, Threat Stack, Sqrrl, Nutonian, and Recorded Future. “I’m forever connected to my ex-wife because I have two children with her,” Lynch says. “[Accomplice and I are] going to be forever connected for the next 10 years based on the body of work we created.”
Accomplice’s Next Phase
Accomplice spun out of Atlas Venture in 2014, raising a $200 million fund in 2015. That fund is 50% deployed. (Atlas Venture continues to make life sciences investments, while Accomplice focuses on technology.)
In recent months, the firm has been plotting ways to consolidate its somewhat scattered family of brands. Accomplice operates Maiden Lane, an AngelList syndicate that allowed its limited partners to invest alongside the firm on AngelList. Maiden Lane has had a few solid exits, including Cruise Automation, Dollar Shave Club and Twilio (through the company’s acquisition of Authy). Separately, Accomplice operates Boston Syndicates (known as BOSS), a sort of “scout” network of Boston entrepreneurs who have made 42 investments on the firm’s behalf.
Partner Ryan Moore notes that it could be confusing for entrepreneurs pitching the firm to know which area the capital would be coming from. Those efforts were created as experiments, he says. Now that the firm knows what works and what doesn’t, it plans to consolidate those efforts under one brand. “We want to concentrate more capital around fewer folks and be more focused in our themes, rather than casting too wide of a net,” he says.
The new plan is for Accomplice to give 30 entrepreneurs $500,000 per year from its fund to invest on its behalf. The firm will invest in all of its “scout” deals, rather than cherry-pick the best ones, and the entrepreneurs will then get the carried interest on those deals. “To do pre-seed [investing], you have to do it from entrepreneurs, and you have to build a scout network of people you trust,” says Partner Jeff Fagnan.
That program will be run out of the West coast. Accomplice is in the process of engaging a placement agent to hire two West Coast-based partners and a principal in the next year before going out to raise its second fund. That vehicle will have the same target size as the prior fund.
Jon Karlen, one of the firm’s original partners, left the firm in 2015. Accomplice’s current partnership is made up of Moore, Fagnan, Dustin Dolginow, TJ Mahony, and Sarah Downey.