BOSTON--What's more impressive: The view from Bain Capital's 40th floor offices here in the landmark John Hancock Tower or a little sales office in Palo Alto, Calif.?
If you're in the tech industry, the answer is probably that little office in Silicon Valley. For the rest of us, well, you really have to visit the company Mitt Romney founded on a clear day.
I was in Bain's offices to hear about a $10 million funding round for BTI Systems, a cloud-computing software company with major offices in nearby Littleton, Mass., and Ottawa, Canada. BTI has been around for about a decade and has raised about $33 million in venture capital over the last two years. Its technology, said CEO Steven Waszak, sits between the data centers that run cloud computing services, trying to reduce bottlenecks and failures between those centers. Bain's venture capital arm is BTI's lead investor.
Between its two main offices and development center in China, BTI has more than 300 employees. But the company decided to talk about the new Palo Alto office, with about a half-dozen people at the moment, in connection to its funding announcement because, as Waszak put it, they're trying to "pick up up a little of that (Valley) DNA."
Contrived as it may sound, he has a point. While engineering talent can be found all over the world, that ever-elusive buzz (along with major data center customers) is best found in Silicon Valley. The Valley still receives roughly more than 40 percent of American venture investment, according to a survey last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. That's more than the next three areas combined.
So where does that leave companies like BTI? Most likely, happy to do business in the Valley, but unwilling to relocate there. That is, of course, if its not acquired by a Bay Area software giant. Oracle has made a habit of acquiring promising software companies in recent years, particularly companies with promising data center and cloud management software. That's not to say, Oracle is looking at BTI, but if it were?
"If Oracle comes by and offers to buy us for $2 billion," said Bin partner Deepak Sindwandi, "obviously, we'll think about that."