WELLESLEY, Mass. – Five years after joining the firm as an associate, closing a dozen deals and taking seats on seven boards, David Tabors has been named Battery Ventures LP’s newest general partner.
Since joining the firm’s Wellesley offices, Tabors has defined his expertise in software and related e-services, most recently carving out a niche in business-to-business marketplaces, supply-chain exchanges and enterprise-focused network solutions as he moved up the ranks.
With $1.8 billion under management in six private equity funds, Battery has committed $1.07 billion to more than 165 companies since its founding in 1983, evolving as an investor in the communications, software, Internet and e-commerce arenas.
When the firm invested its first fund, Battery Ventures LP, a $35 million investment vehicle unveilwed in 1984, its 59 portfolio companies were concentrated in basic networking services and software developers – ePresence, for example, a developer of network servers based in Westborough, Mass. At the time, Battery had only three general partners: Howard Anderson, founder and president of Boston’s The Yankee Group; Robert Barrett, who left Battery a year ago; and Richard Frisbie. Although Frisbie is the only founding GP still with Battery, over the years, the firm has been grooming junior-level staff to build its legacy through a team of homegrown GPs. Tabors is the most recent addition to the firm’s stable of 12 GPs.
“It’s a way to grow your own: to instill Battery’s method in people and provide people more rope over time,” Tabors said. “If they don’t hang themselves, give them more and more to do.”
Like the firm, Tabors has narrowed and redefined his focus over time. When Battery raised a $85 million third fund in 1994, the firm made its first investments in the wireless and fiber optic arenas. Battery Ventures III also was one of the first to explore the Internet, with a $2 million commitment to InfoSeek Corp. The search engine went public in 1996 for $41.5 million with $20 million of venture capital behind it. It was later acquired by The Walt Disney Corp.
At the same time, Tabors’ early investments concentrated on automating internal processes – to build a business’s e-commerce component or to develop a corporate Intranet, for example. He was responsible for Battery’s investment in Vastera Inc., a Dulles, Va.-based company that develops compliance and automation software for exporters. After raising $43 million in four rounds of venture financing between 1996 and 2000, the company completed an $84 million public offering late in September 2000.
The firm’s most recent funds, a $200 million vehicle raised in 1997 and $400 million fund raised in 1999, broadened Battery’s reach into the Internet with investments in network infrastructure players like Level 3 Communications and Akamai Technologies Inc. as well as software and e-commerce companies. Battery’s latest fund, the $1.01 billion giant closed in June, plans to invest up to one-third of its resources in B-to-B e-commerce plays, another 20% in telecommunications infrastructure and the remainder into Internet infrastructure and related service firms.
Tabors’ investments, meanwhile, have shifted toward vertical integration: supply-chain management and procurement tools that move across industries. He currently sits on the board of CheMatch.com Inc., an exchange for the chemicals industry and Optiant Inc. (formerly known as SupplyChange Inc.) which creates supply chain planning software. He also sits on the board of Pedestal Inc., an Internet-based trading platform for the secondary mortgage market, WorldOil.com, an Internet-based service provider to the oilfield services industry; and Execelergy Corp., which provides billing and transaction management software for the energy industry.
Prior to joining Battery, Tabors was a senior associate with Cambridge Associates, a financial consulting firm based in Boston. There, he began tracking the VC industry and evaluating private equity firms.