Jim, Where Did You Get Those Socks?

Accel PartnersJim Breyer was actually born in 1961, but for a few minutes last month, venture industry colleagues were crediting him with an extra decade of experience.

That’s because Morgenthaler Ventures Partner Gary Morgenthaler, who was going over Breyer’s bio for a recent awards presentation, accidentally said the date was 1951.

Breyer, who received the IBF Special Achievement Award for career contributions to the venture capital industry (at the IBF Venture Capital Investing Conference, held in Redwood City, Calif.), was quick to set the record straight.

In doing so, he saved Scale Venture PartnersKate Mitchell the trouble of getting another shopping tip. She had previously asked Breyer where he bought his very brightly colored pair of striped socks.

“Now that we’ve corrected your birth date, I don’t have to ask you where you buy your wrinkle cream,” Mitchell said.

Even with the correction, however, some still wondered at how Breyer has weathered the past few decades. The awards presentation included a video from his Accel colleague Kevin Comolli, who was a classmate in the ‘80s at Harvard Business School. The video featured some old snapshots, including a picture of Breyer from their yearbook, in which he looks pretty much exactly the same as he does now.

“Jim, we’re beginning to think you’re immortal,” Comolli quipped, before switching to a somewhat less flattering photo of MBA-student Breyer slurping scorpion bowls.

Fortunately for Breyer, enough brain cells survived that experience for Accel, which, as some people who follow the venture industry may have heard, has been doing pretty well lately. Morgenthaler mused that Accel’s Fund IX, which includes its 10% stake in Facebook purchased for $13 million (at a valuation that was then considered shockingly high), may be the best-performing venture fund ever.

Statuettes for VCs and Startups

What to give the venture capitalist or entrepreneur who has everything?

How about a modernist-looking embossed statue honoring their contributions to the industry?

The was part of the idea behind the Innovator Awards—a ceremony honoring entrepreneurs and venture investors—that made its debut on June 7 at the Hotel Sofitel in Redwood City, Calif.

Organizers nominated honorees in six categories. Those picked were treated to a surf-and-turf dinner, a round of applause, and, of course, a statuette.

Following are the winners in each category:

• The “Big Idea Award,” honoring the entrepreneur with the most disruptive business model in the past 12 to 18 months, went to Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon. Since Mason wasn’t at the dinner, Dick Kramlich of New Enterprise Associates, which invested in Groupon from early through late stage, accepted the award in his place.

• The “Social Impact Award,” honoring the entrepreneur at an up-and-coming startup with greatest potential to improve the quality of life, went to Julie Corbett, CEO of EcoLogic Brands, a developer of bottles made from recycled paper.

• The “Turnaround Award,” went to Doug Donzelli, CEO of Apprion, a developer of wireless monitoring and communication technology for manufacturers.

• The “MVB (Most Valuable Board Member) Award,” went to Hank Plain of Morgenthaler Ventures. Plain is vice chair of The Foundry, a medical device incubator that launched Ardian, a developer of treatments for hypertension and which sold to Medtronic in November for $800 million

• The “Rising Star Award,” honoring a venture capitalist under 40, went to Ifty Ahmed of Oak Investment Partners.

• The “RiskMaster Award,” presented by Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, went to Jim Healy of Sofinnova Ventures.