Why would a Carlyle veteran leave to go into business with Kim Kardashian?
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,
Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.
- Muck Rack, a remote-based public relations management platform, raised $180 million in Series A funding from Susquehanna Growth Equity.
- Tesseract, a London-based energy company, raised $78 million in funding. Balderton Capital and Lakestar co-led the round and were joined by investors including Accel, Creandum, Lowercarbon Capital, Ribbit, BoxGroup, and other angels.
- Photys Therapeutics, a Boston-based small molecule medicines development company, raised $75 million in Series A funding. MPM Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Omega Funds, Longwood, 8VC, Arkin Bio, Mass General Brigham Ventures, MRL Ventures Fund, the therapeutics-focused corporate venture fund of Merck & Co., Eli Lilly and Company, and Heritage Medical Systems.
- Mesh Payments, a New York-based finance automation platform, raised $60 million in funding. Alpha Wave led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global, TLV Partners, Entreé Capital, and Meron Capital.
- Isovalent, a Cupertino, Calif.-based networking, security, and observability platform, raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Thomvest Ventures.
- Pathway Power, a San Diego-based renewable energy and battery storage developer, raised $36 million in funding from Forest Road Renewables.
- QA Wolf, a Seattle-based quality assurance platform, has raised $20.1 million in funding. Inspired Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Notation Capital, CoFound, and other angels.
- Otolith Labs, a Washington D.C.-based wearable medical devices company treating vertigo, raised $20 million in Series A funding round from Morningside Ventures.
- Arpeggio Biosciences, a Boulder, Colo.-based preclinical therapeutics company, raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Builders VC.
- ELISE, a Bremen, Germany-based connected engineering platform, raised $14.8 million in Series A funding. Spark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including BMW i Ventures, Cherry Ventures, UVC Partners, and Venture Stars.
- Scan.com, a London-based diagnostic imaging platform for booking and receiving results from medical scans, has raised $2.5 million in funding. Triple Point Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including StartUp Health, Plug and Play Ventures, and YZR Capital.
- 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.
- Gamut Capital Management agreed to acquire Extreme Reach, a Dedham, Mass.-based creative logistics company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Kelso acquired Emtec, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based IT consulting services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Mercer Global Advisors acquired Jordan Financial Strategies, a Denver-based wealth management firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- 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.
- Dropp acquired Flyy, a New York-based social metaverse platform, for $25 million.
- Instacart agreed to acquire Rosie Applications, an Ithaca, N.Y.-based online grocery startup. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Yahoo acquired The Factual, a San Mateo, Calif.-based news rating company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Qiniu, a Shanghai-based cloud services platform provider for media and data applications, withdrew its plans for a $100 million initial public offering.
- FWD, a Hong Kong-based insurance company, is weighing a 2023 initial public offering in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.
FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS
- Kapor Capital, an Oakland-based venture capital firm, raised $126 million for a fund focused on tech startups affecting social change in low income communities and communities of color.
- GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm, hired Don McDonough as managing director, business development. Formerly, he was with JLL Partners.
- Lead Edge Capital, a New York and Santa Barbara-based investment fund, hired Susie Bihler as a partner. Formerly, she was with Catalyst Investors.
- OMERS Private Equity, a Toronto-based private equity firm, hired Helen Rattee as managing director, ESG & portfolio thematics. Formerly, she was with OMERS Risk group.
- Red Arts Capital, a Chicago-based private equity firm, hired Vanessa D’Cunha as CFO. Formerly, she was with CapX Partners.
Editor's note: The online version of this newsletter has been updated to clarify that AnaOno is a lingerie brand.