Thong Le has taken the helm of Accelerator Corp., the Seattle-based investment firm that bankrolls emerging startups in the biotechnology arena. Le has served on the board of the organization for the past six years, but with the shift to CEO he will take over day-to-day operations at a critical time.
First priority, Accelerator — started 11 years ago with backing from MPM Capital, Arch Venture Partners, Versant Ventures, Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Leroy Hood’s Institute for Systems Biology — needs to raise more money. As Luke Timmerman at Xconomy notes, Accelerator has exhausted its capital — not making an investment for the past three years. It is now looking to raise between $50 million to $70 million, and is toying with a strategy to expand into New York.
Le replaces founding CEO Carl Weissman, who is moving into an advisory role following the flare up of an autoimmune disease that impacted his ability to lead the organization.
Accelerator has bankrolled a dozen companies in the past 11 years, with five of those going on to raise additional follow-on rounds of financing. Some of those companies include Acylin Therapeutics, Oncofactor and Integrated Diagnostics
Just one portfolio company has been sold: XORI.
Le has plenty of experience to help lead the charge. He spent 13 years at WRF Capital, backing and advising companies such as Acylin Therapeutics, ARZEDA, Groove Biopharma, Oncofactor, Qazzow, Alder Biopharmaceuticals, Cardeas Pharma, Resolve Therapeutics and Uptake Medical.
“Thong brings an impressive track record of success as a venture capital investor in identifying and investing in promising, early-stage opportunities,” said Dr. Steve Gillis, managing director of ARCH Venture Partners and board member of Accelerator Corporation. “His firm understanding of science, coupled with his strong leadership skills and sound investment judgment, will add energy and momentum to the exciting growth and expansion initiatives currently underway at Accelerator. We are excited to have Thong lead the Accelerator team.”
In a release, Le said that Accelerator “has pioneered a capital-efficient model to identify, invest in, and further develop promising, early-stage life science technologies.”