Spider raises $200M for AvePoint, setting up growth for RVA

February 27, 2020
"It's the highlight of my professional career so far," Barnes said.

Aaron Barnes, ’05, GB’17, had been working hard to score enough capital to expand and grow the AvePoint presence in Richmond. AvePoint, an independent software vendor and manufacturer headquartered in Jersey City, N.J., which develops, sells, and supports governance, compliance, and management software for enterprise collaboration systems.

“It’s the highlight of my professional career so far,” Barnes said. 

The company’s COO Brian Brown told Richmond BizSense that the new funding will allow AvePoint to grow both its staff and footprint in Richmond.

“Our traditional headquarters are in New Jersey, but our primary operations center is here in Richmond,” Brown said. “I anticipate our staffing needs will increase.”

He says the skills he learned through The Richmond MBA helped him make the connections and maintain the personal relationships needed to see the deal through to the end. 

“The lead investor on the deal was a connection I had made through another Spider alum,” Barnes said. “These deals require you to think outside the box to come up with viable solutions to get it across the finish line. Making this connection helped accelerate the process at a key juncture.”

He says he drew on the softer skills related to organizational behavior to help solidify better negotiations.

“I made sure we got the right people at the table and secured buy in. Even if it’s incremental work, my graduate education taught me to understand investor interests, and showed me how to combine multiple pieces of information that paint themselves into a nice picture,” Barnes said.

He also referenced the case studies he worked on in Dr. Raggio’s class.

“I was able to take the learnings from class and apply those into the real world immediately. Using the case approach, taking abstract concepts and applying them to something more tangible, was invaluable,” Barnes said. 

He began working to secure funding since shortly after his graduation from the MBA program, and says that experience combining time management with professional skills and development primed him for this project.

“It did provide me with a lot of the soft skills that are becoming more and more necessary as I ascend in my company and provided me the framework to think outside the box to find creative, viable solutions and the persistence to see things through,” Barnes said. 

According to Richmond BizSense, the capital investment, funded by private equity firm TPG Sixth Street Partners, Goldman Sachs and others, closed on Dec. 26. It was the company’s Series C funding round. Brown said AvePoint’s co-founders and co-CEOs, Kai Gong and Tianyi Jiang, have retained a majority stake in the company.

Brown said AvePoint enjoyed over 30 percent growth in sales and revenue in 2019, an all-time best for the company. With the new funding on the way following a strong 2019, Brown said they’re considering some acquisitions in 2020.

“It was great being a part of this massive team effort—a fantastic accomplishment for us,” Barnes said.