How Did Jim Breyer Make His Money?

When you hear that Jim Breyer’s parents were Hungarian immigrants, you might assume they came to the United States looking for opportunity.

In reality, his parents had excellent educational backgrounds and jobs. His father was an engineer who held an executive position at International Data Group. His mother was a Honeywell executive.

While these jobs positioned them to help Jim thrive, they didn’t catapult him to the level of success he enjoys today. He became a billionaire by following his passions, making informed decisions, and taking some investment opportunities when others were too afraid of the risks.

How did Jim Breyer become a billionaire? We delve in to find out.

Who Is Jim Breyer?

Jim Breyer is a venture capitalist with a reputation for supporting technology startups, including Facebook when the company had just 10 employees. Over the last couple of decades, he has also invested heavily in China’s technology industry.

Breyer is best known for founding Breyer Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in several industries, including fintech, entertainment, consumer-facing technology, security, and healthcare.

While working as a managing partner at Accel Partners, Breyer oversaw a $12.2 million investment in Facebook, which was a new company with less than a dozen employees. The investment made Accel Partners Facebook’s second-largest stakeholder. Only Mark Zuckerberg holds more shares in Facebook.

Other noteworthy companies he championed as an early investor include:

  • Etsy
  • Spotify
  • Grammarly
  • Lyra Health

Breyer is also noted for his position on investing in Chinese companies. In 2005, he worked with Patrick Joseph McGovern, Founder and CEO of IDG, to create a joint venture between the firms.

More recently, Breyer and IDG Capital committed $1 billion in venture capital funds for Chinese businesses.

Jim Breyer’s Career

While attending an undergraduate program in Interdisciplinary Studies at Stanford University, Jim Breyer took part-time positions at Apple and Hewlett-Packard to satisfy his interest in technology.

After graduating, he moved to New York City and worked for McKinsey & Company for two years. He decided that he wanted to improve his career opportunities, so he enrolled at Harvard University, where he earned an MBA and graduated in the top 5% of his class.

With his academic credentials satisfied, Breyer looked for opportunities to combine his love of technology with his skills in business administration. He focused on positions in Silicon Valley and soon found Accel Partners in San Francisco. Within just three years, Accel Partners named him a partner.

Breyer oversaw some of Accel Partners’s most ambitious venture capital investments. Some of his projects were so ambitious that they required partnerships with other investors. This led to him forming ties with the private equity firm KKR and IDG.

Forming independent entities to pursue challenging venture capital projects might have encouraged Jim Breyer to start his own firm, Breyer Capital. It also gave him more chances to take calculated risks on emerging companies in technology and related industries.

Founding his own capital investment company didn’t satisfy Breyer’s broad interests in funding startups and helping established businesses grow.

Since forming Breyer Capital, he has also:

Breyer’s success as a venture capitalist has earned him numerous accolades. He has been awarded with:

  • The Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement.
  • Silicon Valley Forum’s Visionary Award.
  • A Lifetime Achievement Award from Venture Capital Journal.

Additionally, Vanity Fair included him in its 2012 New Establishment Hall of Fame list, and Forbes put him at the top of its Midas List of Tech’s Top Investors three years in a row.

Breyer Capital Investments

Jim Breyer founded Breyer Capital in 2006. It currently has a portfolio that includes 138 investments.

Although Breyer Capital primarily operates as a venture capital firm, it also funds expansions of post-seed companies and buyouts that help companies acquire the technologies they need to grow.

Breyer Capital’s early projects involved several high-profile clients, including:

  • Marvel Entertainment
  • Legendary Pictures
  • Harvard’s Experiment Fund
  • Brightcove (a video game developer)

Even in its early days, Breyer Capital targeted China as a place where it could invest in high-growth opportunities. It also maintains interests in India and several South Asia countries.

His close ties to China have made him important enough that the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing made him a member of its advisory board.

Breyer Capital relocated its headquarters to Austin, Texas, in 2020. While Breyer praises Silicon Valley’s startup culture and close relationship with standard, he says Austin has a collaborative atmosphere that involves a broader range of professionals, including musicians, artists, and doctors as well as technology entrepreneurs.

What Is Breyer Capital’s Revenue

Sources differ on Breyer Capital’s revenue. Reports say that Breyer Capital has a revenue of $1.44 million, $1.5 million, and less than $5 million. Some even put its revenue as low as $500,000.

The confusion could come from the difference between revenue and capital gains. While Breyer Capital certainly makes more than $1.5 million per year, most of its money comes from capital gains on its investments. This money gets taxed differently than standard revenue.

Confusion could also stem from the amount of money Breyer Capital invests compared to the amount of money it earns. As a venture capital firm, the company constantly invests money in other businesses, which could make its value look artificially lower than it really is.

How Did Jim Breyer Make His Money?

Jim Breyer made his money as General Partner at Accel overseeing a $12.2 million investment in Facebook.

He established himself as a leading venture capitalist by correctly identifying several successful startups early in his career. His investment in Facebook was particularly rewarding because it returned over 100 times its initial cost.

Forbes seems to think that his success comes from his personality almost as much as his keen insights into business potential. According to the publication, Breyer can move between social circles easily without feeling uncomfortable. This trait makes it possible for him to cooperate with companies in diverse environments, including Hollywood and China.

TechCrunch also points out that Breyer rarely speaks negatively about anything or anyone. When discussing his move from San Francisco to Austin, he spent several minutes praising Silicon Valley before lauding the features that drew him to the Texas capital.

This combination of personality and keen business acumen has made the venture capitalist a billionaire with ties to many industries around the world.

How Much Is Jim Breyer Worth?

According to Forbes, Jim Breyer currently has a net worth of $1.7 billion.

This represents a significant dip in wealth for the venture capitalist.

As recently as 2019, he was worth about $3 billion.

That amount fell to $2.3 billion in 2020.

Jim Breyer and Angela Chao

Jim Breyer married Angela Chao in 2012. Chao was the daughter of Chinese billionaire James Si-Cheng Chao, sister of former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and sister-in-law of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Angela Chao graduated from Harvard University she held several high-profile jobs at Morgan Stanley and Foremost Group, where she replaced her father as CEO.

Chao died on February 11, 2024, at a private residence near Austin, Texas, where she lived. Reports say that she died in an accident involving a Tesla vehicle and a pond.

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