- Insider’s Banker of the Week series appears in our daily newsletter, 10 Things on Wall Street.
- This week we’re spotlighting Graham Weaver, founder and CEO of Alpine Investors.
- Weaver put the idea for his own business in the dorm room at Stanford Business School in 2001. Today, the company has made more than 280 investments and manages nearly $8 billion in assets.
Graham Weaver is not your typical finance professional.
Meanwhile, he is also the founder and CEO of Alpine Investors, a private equity firm with $8 billion in assets under management that Weaver conjured in his college room while studying at Stanford Business School in 2001.
Alpine has invested in more than 280 companies, some of which have been very busy in recent months.
July, for example, saw the company do a bunch of deals. Alpine-backed Trilon Group, Infrastructure Consultant, signed a partnership With an engineering company called Mannik & Smith Group. Alps too sell his share In Mindful, an Automated Callback Company, for Customer Service Company Medallia, and Alpine Invested in a K-12 Online Tutor FEV مدرس teacher.
“We run really focused portfolios with typically fewer than 10 companies per fund,” Weaver told Insider. “We play with companies that are mainly about building teams and getting the best people.”
Indeed, talent is at the heart of Alpine’s investment decisions. Weaver said the investment firm often brings in C-suite executives, and it also has a hand in selecting M&A teams at its portfolio companies to manage additional acquisitions.
Alpine also manages a file Executive Director’s Training Programwhich identifies and trains people the company believes can run an Alpine-backed business.
While this creates a path for future leaders, it risks alienating existing employees at portfolio companies who may not be receptive to an outsider coming in to run the business.
To mitigate this, Weaver said the best implementation of the CIT program is Alpine investments where current CEOs retire or sell their stake in the company. He also emphasized that CIT candidates were not only cast in this role. They are trained and equipped with a ready seat of people who can act as guides.
“They report to the experienced CEOs who have run the Alpine playbook in the past,” Weaver said. “We tend to focus on situations where there is a management transition. Otherwise, it is very difficult to implement.”
Sponsor Without Funding Model
In its early days, Weaver applied the “sponsor without funding” model. It was a risky play.
He coldly called label printing companies an industry he had previously been exposed to and was optimistic about, finding an owner willing to sell his stake.
But Weaver has not raised any money. He relied on investments from his friends and even borrowed money against his credit card. All this after signing the agreement.
“I raised almost the entire capital structure in debt. At the time, you could write a check for yourself, where you funded some of these early deals. By the way, I wouldn’t highly recommend doing that, but that was how I started,” he said.
In a way, this persistence aligns with Weaver’s thinking behind the CIT program. When selecting candidates for the initiative, Weaver looks for individuals with “the will to win, tenacity, and intellectual strength.”
“People are way more capable than you think,” he said. “One of the basic premise of the program is that traits matter more than experience.”
Weaver counts Tom Steyer, the founder of Farallon Capital who sought the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, as one of his mentors and early investors.
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