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February 6, 2009

15th Annual Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference Focuses on Opportunity Amid Challenges

Over 700 alumni, professionals and students gathered to discuss emerging trends in the private equity and venture capital communities.


The Private Equity Program and the student Private Equity and Venture Capital Club held the 15th annual Private Equity & Venture Capital Conference on January 30. The conference, themed “Today’s Uncertainty, Tomorrow’s Opportunity,” focused on the challenges facing the private equity and venture capital industries in the current economic downturn. The conference drew over 700 alumni, professionals and students to Lerner Hall for discussions on emerging trends in the private equity and venture capital communities.

Keynote addresses were delivered by J. Christopher Flowers, founder of J.C. Flowers & Co., George Fisher, senior advisor at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company, and Robert Pittman, founder of the Pilot Group, LLC.

Dan Primack, editor of PEHub.com, led the conference’s panel on venture capital. Before the conference, Primack discussed the impact that tight credit markets and a recessionary economic environment have had on the industry.

“The average investor’s chances of making of money would have been better if he put his money under the mattress. That may be true of public markets too, but you can’t liquidate in VC. All those median funds are a loser,” Primack said. “That shows you that the industry has some fundamental problems and there must be some considerations of radical proposals.”

David Snow, the executive editor and director of PEI Media, moderated the conference’s panel on limited partners. Before the conference, Snow discussed the economy’s effect on the power dynamics in private equity.

“Negotiating power has moved squarely to the limited partners. During the boom years, right up through 2007, there was a sense that general partners were holding a velvet rope in front of funds and raising billions in commitments while giving the impression that they were turning down extra demand,” Snow said. “That demand from limited partners allowed general partners to receive favorable terms.”

Laura Resnikoff, senior lecturer in discipline in business and director of the Private Equity Program, provided the event’s closing remarks.