TA AssociatesBOSTON – On his first day in TA Associates Inc.’s Boston headquarters, the mild skies of Silicon Valley that Philip Rueppel had grown accustomed to during his tenure as a sell-side analyst in San Francisco gave way to the great New England blizzard of 2001.
“I can’t bring good weather,” he said, “…but hopefully I can make good investments.”
Rueppel joined TA Associates as a principal in late February. He’ll be specializing in Internet infrastructure investments, including storage, content management and systems management – concentrations he had developed during an investment banking career.
After securing an electrical engineering degree from Yale University in 1983, Rueppel began his career at Hewlett-Packard Co. as an engineer and marketing manager. Later, armed with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, he joined New York-based investment bank Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. as a sell-side analyst covering computer systems companies. He then spent the next eight years with Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown as a managing director and senior computer systems analyst covering the Internet infrastructure and computer systems sectors. The transition from research to investment, Rueppel said, is a natural one.
“From a professional perspective, I’ve always been enamored of the private equity business because it leverages the skills and interests I developed as a sell-side analyst – analytical ability, investment decision-making abilities, the ability to assess growth and new technologies.”
Rueppel is the first senior professional to join TA Associates since the close of its largest investment fund, the $2 billion TA 9, last summer. While the fund retains the same focus as TA’s previous vehicles – Internet infrastructure, IT services and software, health care, consumer and financial services – this fund is taking on more late-stage plays. Previous TA vehicles gave serious consideration to early-stage deals, but investments out of the most recent fund fall between $40 million and $50 million.
“I’m a strong believer in the value of late-stage investment. As technology becomes a bigger piece of GDP, alternative financing will play a much bigger role in providing capital to the technology industry,” Rueppel said.
Opportunities in the storage networking space, or, the convergence of storage systems and network technologies, will be driven by corporate initiatives. While corporations set up subsidiaries and spin-off development arms, new technologies are also emerging from within young private companies. Rueppel will keep his finger on both, with a knowledge-driven investment strategy. Although he will identify possible investments within his sphere, TA Associates’ investment committee must approve all investments.
With upwards of $5 billion under management, TA Associates counts more than 330 companies in its portfolio of investments. The portfolio includes a diverse mix such as online brokerage Datek Online Holdings Corp., delivery service Federal Express Co., Jenny Craig Inc. weight loss centers and SBA Communications Corp.