Columbus one of two choices for $5B cloud tech company headquarters

Swiss-based Veeam Software Corp. has narrowed its choice for a new headquarters to its two largest U.S. offices in Columbus and suburban Atlanta, its CEO said.

Each office has more than 300 employees, making up about half Veeam’s U.S. workforce. CEO Bill Largent is in Columbus and CFO Chuck Garner is in Alpharetta. Both regions offer a wealth of college graduates for recruiting, Largent said.

The choice comes down to recruiting and possible economic incentives, he told Columbus Business First. Whatever the result, the Columbus native said he will keep his Delaware County home.

“We know the pluses and minuses of the locations,” Largent said. “We’ve been seeing what state and local government might do – not that our hand is out begging.

“We’re very comfortable with the schools (at both locations). Talent is what we’re mostly looking for.”

The city Department of Development and JobsOhio, the state economic development organization, both said they do not comment on whether they’re in talks with companies.

Insight Partners, a New York City venture capital and private equity firm that specializes in software, announced this month it’s acquiring Veeam for $5 billion and moving headquarters away from Baar, Switzerland.

That will help Veeam compete with domestic competitors in cloud backup, such as IBM Corp., Commvault and Veritas Technologies.

With more than $1 billion in bookings last year, Veeam is tops in the cloud backup market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but fourth in the United States, Largent said. (Bookings represent the value of contracts, which can be multi-year; realized revenue for the year was closer to $850 milllion.)

Moving the headquarters will boost its profile in bids, especially for military contracts.

“There was a perception (among customers) we’re a foreign corporation and the U.S. is not our target market,” Largent said.

Outside of what goes to the founders, the capital infusion in the company will help with plans to add 700 jobs globally this year, Largent said.

First priority is closing that deal sometime this quarter before deciding the location, Largent said. (The Phoenix-area office is out of the running, however.)

A head office is kind of an outdated idea for the company – half of its 4,200 global employees work from home. Veeam’s software helps enterprises back up and recover their data in cloud computing environments, and the company itself has operated virtually since its founding in 2006.

“Senior management and the next layer are not really headquartered anywhere,” Largent said. “We’re all spread around.”

Instead of conference rooms, teams gather using online meeting platforms.

“It’s second nature to us,” Largent said. “We use video, audio, whatever anybody is comfortable with. I don’t have to be in front of somebody to have that great interaction.”

The office at 8800 Lyra Dr. in the Polaris area houses customer service and administrative functions such as accounting, marketing and HR. It had been the U.S. head office.

Co-founders Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov have long Central Ohio roots. They came from Russia to study at Ohio State University in the 1990s and founded Aelita Software in Dublin in 1999. They left about a year after Quest Software Inc. acquired Aelita in 2004, founding Veeam in 2006.

“We had a nucleus here to get started with Veeam,” said Largent, who worked with them at Aelita and came to Veeam as CFO in 2009. Largent was named CEO in 2016 before switching to COO; he moved to Switzerland during that time, but kept his home outside Galena.

Baronov stepped down as CEO in the acquisition, and both are leaving the board but still advising the company.

Insight first took a minority stake in 2013 and invested $500 million a year ago. The private equity firm that invests solely on software companies brings Veeam both expertise and introductions to potential customers.

“Big banks are a nice target for us,” Largent said.

By Carrie Ghose

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