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  • The U.S. does not have a monopoly on innovative, growing companies, as TA’s geographic expansion has confirmed.

    TA Associates was founded in 1968 with a mandate that, compared to its global footprint today, seems curiously limited – to invest in Massachusetts technology companies.

    The firm’s growth, first across the U.S. and then across the world, was driven by one ambition – the pursuit of growing, innovative companies wherever they may be found.

    With deep roots in the Boston area’s Route 128 research and business ecosystem, by 1982, TA’s partners found themselves visiting California companies on a regular basis – often enough to justify the launch of an office in Palo Alto. However, given TA’s evolved focus on profitable, growth-stage businesses, the firm chose to set up shop away from VC-heavy Sand Hill Road. “We wanted to appeal to entrepreneurs who had started their businesses without venture capital,” remembers Jeff Chambers, who launched TA’s California office, and is now a Senior Advisor to the firm. “In fact, a lot of those entrepreneurs hated venture capitalists. We were almost selling ourselves as anti-venture capitalists in those days and locating somewhere other than Sand Hill Road was an important part of that strategy.”

    TA went international in 2003 with the opening of an office in London to engage with entrepreneurs across Europe. The move came after a Boston-based associate, Naveen Wadhera, spent a year calling on European entrepreneurs, and then Vice President Ajit Nedungadi would fly over for face-to-face meetings. This long-distance outreach effort convinced firm leadership that TA could find and partner with the kinds of exciting, innovative and growing companies in Europe as it had in the U.S.

    “I started coming to monthly board meetings,” remembers Nedungadi, now a Managing Partner at TA and head of its European activities. “One thing led to another, and we decided to make a strategy out of it. Like a lot of other things that have turned out very well at the firm, it was incremental. It was not a go plant the flag, hire a bunch of people, build a big office. . . It was entrepreneurial.”

    Offices opened in Mumbai in 2009 and in Hong Kong in 2011, after the firm determined that its partnership approach to investing would appeal to entrepreneurs across Asia.

    Wadhera, now a Managing Director in the London office, says the decision-making behind TA’s global expansion illustrates something important about the firm’s culture: “It's about individuals putting their hands up and saying, ‘This is something I'd be excited about doing.’ As long as it's data-driven and there is depth to the premise, people at TA are very open to ideas for growth.”

    “When I joined in 2001, we were a 100 percent North American firm,” adds Wadhera. “Today, more than one-third of what we do is outside of the U.S. That's been fascinating to see. Watching a firm that was deep in Boston and Silicon Valley become a truly global partnership, with people from all different backgrounds, sitting around a board table making decisions about truly global companies, has been an awesome journey.”