Blackstone just hired an Amazon Web Services exec who helped the cloud giant do M&A. It’s the latest sign that big private-equity firms are muscling in on specialty tech investors’ turf.

Blackstone Group CEO and Co-Founder Steve Schwarzman speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, U.S., November 6, 2019.  REUTERS/Gary He

Private-equity giant Blackstone just hired an Amazon Web Services exec in an effort to scout out tech deals.
Christine Feng, a director in corporate development at AWS, joins Blackstone as senior managing director, three months after Blackstone poached another tech-focused dealmaker, Vini Letteri, from KKR. Both staff the firm’s San Francisco office.
Blackstone’s head of tactical opportunities, Chris James, laid out why the firm is doubling down on tech, an area that’s proven resilient throughout the pandemic.
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Private-equity giant The Blackstone Group has hired a dealmaker from Amazon Web Services to scout out tech opportunities in Northern California, in a sign that Wall Street’s large investors are looking to better compete in an area traditionally dominated by specialty players.

Of all the industries that have been slammed by the pandemic, tech is one that’s stayed relatively resilient, and private-equity executives have told Business Insider to expect to see a greater focus on investing there, specifically in software companies.

Chris James, the head of Blackstone’s tactical opportunities group — a unit designed to quickly deploy capital in special situations — shared with Business Insider that the firm has brought onboard Christine Feng, a director in corporate development at AWS who previously worked in a similar role at Microsoft.

“We are aggressively growing our Northern California presence,” said James, calling Feng a “key anchor.”

At AWS, Feng was responsible for mergers and acquisitions, from sourcing to execution. And at Microsoft, where she worked between 2010 and 2016, she held another dealmaking position as a senior member of its corporate development team, executing acquisitions and divestitures across all of Microsoft’s business units, according to her biography.

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James said that Blackstone had approved the position toward the end of last year, pre-COVID, and that the firm had sought to add an executive with expertise and relationships in the tech community, which could translate to deal origination and execution.

“Needless to say, the tech sector is quite broad and growing and there is nothing that is not touched by technology,” James said.

“We are trying to do deals — and a lot of those deals, at their core, touch on technology.”

Some of the deals that have marked Blackstone’s expansion in the tech sector include its investment in dating app Bumble owner MagicLab, as well as the financial-data company Refinitiv, which announced plans to merge with with the London Stock Exchange last year.

Read more: We talked to a dozen insiders about Jon Korngold, the investor driving Blackstone’s big push into backing fast-growing companies like Bumble

But Blackstone, with more than $560 billion in assets under management, is best known for its real-estate, credit and general private-equity investing, with portfolio companies spanning hotels, parks, and warehouse storage. Historically, the most prominent tech investors have been specialty players, like Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and Providence Equity Partners.

Other recent tech investments from Blackstone include Ultimate Software, a cloud-based human resources applications developer, HealthEdge, administrative software for health insurers, mobile ad company …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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