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  • Peter Brooke had broader impact in mind when he founded TA Associates.

    The founder of TA Associates was inspired to create an investment business less by a thirst for profit than by his high esteem for a transformative government program.

    In fact, Peter Brooke was in Harvard Yard when that program was first described publicly by its chief creator. While a 17-year-old high school student, Brooke attended the 1947 commencement ceremony of Harvard University, at which General George C. Marshall famously gave a speech announcing what came to be known as the Marshall Plan, the framework for economic reconstruction in war-torn Europe.

    In the years that followed, Brooke keenly tracked the impact of the Marshall Plan, impressed by the direct link between economic development and human progress. He eventually saw an opportunity to address an economic problem in his own backyard. By the late 1950s, Brooke’s home state of Massachusetts was being ravaged by industrial decline in the form of manufacturing activity moving away from the state. Brooke, by then a banker, urged local lenders to focus aggressively on providing capital to future-facing, research-driven businesses. His growing expertise in and contacts within Massachusetts’ nascent technology sector led him to eventually found TA Associates in 1968, among the first venture capital firms in the United States. The firm eventually raised $6 million for its first fund.

    “The Marshall Plan had a great effect on me,” says Brooke. “My concept wasn't to make money necessarily - it was to do something that might benefit the local economy first, and then the global economy. We were successful in this endeavor, first at TA Associates and then at Advent International. It must be remembered that the industry started with that initial idea of, ‘What can we do to be of use?’”

    Fifty years later, Brooke says he is amazed by the evolution and growth of the firms he founded, and more broadly by the meteoric rise of the private equity industry around the world. But he cautions that these private capital investors need to continue to prove their usefulness to society, to “ensure that we are adding value.”

    Today, TA Associates focuses on investing in later-stage, innovative, profitable companies that demonstrate sustained growth. But they also demonstrate a positive broader impact, according to TA’s current Chairman and Managing Partner, Brian Conway. “Innovation leads to productivity increases, which leads to growth, which leads to a higher standard of living for everybody,” says Conway. “We can feel very good about what we do.”