How do you get venture capital these days? Try waiting until you don't need it. That's what the Grayson brothers did, and now they have more venture capital than they know what to do with.
By 1988, six years after founding Micrografx Inc. in a Dallas garage, J. Paul and George Grayson had built their graphics-software company into a $12-million business with a stellar reputation in its industry and were thinking about going public. But investment bankers at Alex. Brown & Sons Inc. recommended they first raise their profile in the financial community.
So they let it be known that they might be willing to sell a piece of Micrografx if the price was right. Sure enough, venture capitalists were soon beating down their doors. Eventually, the Graysons chose TA Associates, in Boston, trading 10% of the company for $3 million.
A quarter of the money went to a Micrografx employee, who sold his stake in the company as part of the deal. As for the company's share, it didn't really need the cash, so the Graysons put it in certificates of deposit.
The money itself is beside the point, CEO J. Paul Grayson says. "The main thing is that the TA relationship has given us credibility. People know that TA did its homework before signing on."
Meanwhile, the venture capitalists have earned their keep by helping choose board members, investigating competition, checking out potential acquisitions, and making introductions to big investors in New York City and Boston. And the IPO? Grayson says it's no longer an immediate goal. Maybe they'll take the company public next year, maybe in four years. Frankly, they don't need the money.
-- Leslie Brokaw