The first accelerator, YC, was founded in 2005. The second, Techstars, was founded in 2006. Wikipedia has a good summary of the history of accelerators.
Now that we are 13 years into the accelerator journey, an accelerator is a well-established construct that is part of the global startup ecosystem. They have evolved over the years, and many new approaches have been taken.
The question of the efficacy of accelerators has regularly been asked over the past decade. A number of academic papers have appeared in the past few years exploring this. I was asked if any existed the other day by an LP, so following is a list of papers I am familiar with.
If you know of any others, please put links in the comments or send me an email with the info.
Accelerators and Crowd-Funding: Complementarity, Competition, or Convergence in the Earliest Stages of Financing New Ventures?, Smith, Hannigan, and Gasiorowski, 6/13
Accelerating Startups: The Seed Accelerator Phenomenon, Hochberg and Cohen, 3/14
Accelerators and the Regional Supply of Venture Capital Investment, Fehder and Hochberg, 9/14
Swinging for the fences: How do top accelerators impact the trajectories of new ventures?, Winston Smith and Hannigan, 6/15
Investment Accelerators, Bernthal, 8/15
Startup Accelerators and Ecosystems: Complements or Substitutes?, Fehder, 9/15
Do Accelerators Accelerate? If So, How? The Impact of Intensive Learning from Others on New Venture Development, Hallen, Bingham, and Cohen, 7/16
How Do Accelerators Impact the Performance of High-Technology Ventures?, Yu, 8/16
Who Needs Contracts? Generalized Exchange within Investment Accelerators, Bernthal, 11/16
Business Incubators and Accelerators: A Co-Citation Analysis-Based, Systematic Literature Review, Hausberg and Korreck, 3/17
How Do Accelerators Select Startups? Shifting Decision Criteria across Stages, Yin and Lau, 12/17