Why would a Carlyle veteran leave to go into business with Kim Kardashian?

September 8, 2022, 12:44 PM UTC
Jay Sammons, Carlyle's former global head of consumer, media, and retail, is launching a private equity firm with Kim Kardashian.
Greg Swales—Courtesy of SKKY Partners

The senior departures at Carlyle seemed to come in tandem. 

There was, of course, the abrupt resignation of CEO Kewsong Lee, who was reportedly at odds with the firm’s remaining co-founders. And let’s not forget the announced departure of the long-time global head of investor relations Nathan Urquhart, who is on his way over to hedge fund and growth equity investor Coatue Management.

And then there was Jay Sammons, the global head of consumer, media, and retail. He went off to do business with…Kim Kardashian.

On its face, it sounds wildly bizarre that a 16-year Carlyle veteran would exit one of the most senior gigs in the private equity industry to team up with a reality TV star and launch a new firm, SKKY Partners. And at first it may sound even more peculiar that Kardashian, one of the most public-facing individuals in the world, would propel herself headlong into an industry known for being opaque and secretive.

But then again, it’s really not bizarre at all.

Private equity firms have long invested in music assets, magazines, beauty companies, and sports teams. And it’s become hardly unusual for private equity firms to recruit the help of celebrities to help sell a product or help a company build a brand. Let’s face it—there are plenty of people who are more likely to buy a grill from BBQGuys once they’ve seen Eli Manning flipping patties on it. And CEOs may be more inclined to sign a deal if said celebrity is one of the ones advising executives at the firm. 

Particularly when you are operating in the world of consumer goods, brand matters—a lot. And who knows how to build a brand better than Kim Kardashian and her family? (You may recall the doomed Fyre Festival paid Kendall Jenner $250,000 to post about it on Instagram. Now that’s a loyal following.) Personal opinions on that brand aside, you really can’t deny that the women have managed to get at something.

Kim Kardashian has proved to be quite effective at using her following to turn a profit. She may be best known for her role on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, her relationship with Kanye West, or perhaps the scandalous adult video that propelled her to notoriety in the first place, but she’s also an extremely successful entrepreneur. Kim Kardashian West Beauty has become one of the most influential celebrity brands, and last year Kardashian sold a 20% stake in the company for $200 million. Her shapewear brand, Skims, is reportedly poised to hit $400 million in revenue by the end of this year, and it is valued at $3.2 billion, per PitchBook. This year Kardashian went on to launch a new skincare line called SKKN BY KIM.

Sammons is a dealmaker in a similar world as Kardashian. He led Carlyle’s investment in Beats by Dre and recently led its acquisition of Beautycounter. You can add Vogue International and Supreme to his portfolio as well. Sammons told the Wall Street Journal that he had a relationship with Kim Kardashian and her mother, Kris Jenner (who will be a SKKY partner), for years prior to getting into business together. 

In the consumer space, Kardashian and Sammons could be a power duo. Will limited partners agree?

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com
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- AnaOno, a Philadelphia-based lingerie brand for women who have had breast reconstructions and mastectomies, raised $1 million in seed funding led by Golden Seeds. 


- Francisco Partners acquired a majority stake in Drawbridge, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based cybersecurity software and solutions provider to the financial services industry, and  Kobalt, a New York-based music services company. Financial terms were not disclosed for either transaction.

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- TA Associates agreed to acquire a minority stake in Hornetsecurity, a Pittsburgh-based cloud security and compliance SaaS provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- VetCor, a portfolio company of funds managed by Harvest Partners and Cressey & Company, acquired People, Pets & Vets, an Olympia, Wash.-based veterinary services company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


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Editor's note: The online version of this newsletter has been updated to clarify that AnaOno is a lingerie brand.

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