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High-profile venture capitalists cut back roles at Accel Partners

By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two of Silicon Valley's most respected venture capitalists are cutting back their roles at Accel Partners, the big-name firm best known for its early investment in Facebook.

Kevin Efrusy, who as a junior partner had brought Facebook to the attention of Accel, said he will not be a managing member of the firm's next venture fund. Accel's investors expect the firm to raise more capital early in 2014.

Managing members typically control a firm's direction and investment decisions

"It's a technical change I asked for that they accommodated," Efrusy said, adding he didn't want so much involvement in decision-making at the firm level.

"I'm here, I'm doing investments, I'm not retiring. I'm working full time," he said. Efrusy's investments include business-loan company Capital Access Network, software company Couchbase and deals site Groupon.

Theresia Gouw Ranzetta has told her portfolio start-up companies that she, too, will pass on a managing member role with Accel's next fund, two people familiar with the matter said. She also will stop making new investments.

A spokeswoman for Accel did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gouw's move.

In her 14 years at Accel, Gouw has led many successful investments, such as data-security service Imperva and real estate company Trulia. Gouw now wants to scale back her commitments to have more free time, a person familiar with the matter said.

Gouw will retain her 14 board seats and continue to advise the companies she is backing currently, the person said, including cosmetics-subscription company Birchbox, hotel-booking service Hotel Tonight and online retailer ModCloth. Like Efrusy, she will continue to attend partner meetings.

Gouw's decision to ratchet back on her role will leave Accel's Palo Alto headquarters, like many firms in Silicon Valley, without a female managing member. Women comprise just 11 percent of venture capitalists, according to the National Venture Capital Association. Accel has a senior female partner, Sonali De Rycker, in its London office.

Accel recently hired Brian O'Malley, formerly head of seed and early stage investments at Battery Ventures, to join the firm as a partner. It also recently hired four other investing professionals at the principal and venture partner level, and two operating partners.

Accel, which is best known for its investment in Facebook, in which it reaped a $5.8 billion gain on a $47 million investment, has had about $5 billion in initial public offerings or acquisitions of portfolio companies in recent months. Those include the sale of payments service Braintree to eBay for $800 million and the IPO of Nimble Storage, expected Friday.

Accel raised its latest funds, Accel XI, at $475 million, and Accel Growth Fund II, at $875 million, in 2011.

(Reporting by Sarah McBride; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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