- The private equity giant Blackstone has just hired a manager from Amazon Web Services to look for technical deals.
- Christine Feng, director of corporate development at AWS, joins Blackstone as a senior managing director three months after Blackstone poached another tech-oriented dealmaker, Vini Letteri, from KKR. Both employees work in the company's San Francisco office.
- Blackstone's Tactical Opportunities Manager Chris James explained why the company is focused on technology, an area that has proven resilient throughout the pandemic.
- You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.
Private equity giant The Blackstone Group has hired a dealmaker from Amazon Web Services to search for technical opportunities in Northern California. This is a sign that Wall Street's major investors are striving for better competition in an area traditionally dominated by specialists.
Technology has remained relatively stable across all industries hit by the pandemic, and private equity executives have told business insiders that they should expect a stronger focus on investing there, especially in software companies.
Chris James, leader of Blackstone's tactical opportunity group – – A unit designed to quickly capitalize in special situations – together with Business Insider, which the company brought on board with Christine Feng, a director of corporate development at AWS, who previously worked in a similar role at Microsoft.
"We are aggressively expanding our presence in Northern California," said James, calling Feng a "key anchor."
At AWS, Feng was responsible for mergers and acquisitions, from procurement to execution. At Microsoft, where she worked between 2010 and 2016, she held another position as a senior member of the corporate development team, who, according to her biography, made acquisitions and divestments in all of Microsoft's business areas.
James said Blackstone had approved the position prior to COVID late last year and that the company had tried to add a manager with expertise and relationships in the tech community, which could translate into business creation and execution.
"Of course, the technology sector is pretty broad and growing and there is nothing that is not affected by the technology," said James.
"We try to do business – and many of these businesses are essentially technology-related."
Deals that have shaped Blackstone's technology expansion include investing in the dating app bumble owner MagicLab and the financial data company Refinitiv, which announced plans to merge with the London Stock Exchange last year.
Continue reading: We spoke to a dozen insiders about Jon Korngold, the investor who is driving Blackstone's big push to support fast-growing companies like Bumble
However, Blackstone, with more than $ 560 billion in assets under management, is best known for its real estate, credit, and general private equity investments. The portfolio companies extend across hotels, parks and warehouses. In the past, the best-known tech investors were specialists like Silver Lake, Vista Equity Partners and Providence Equity Partners.
Blackstone's current technology investments include: Ultimate Software, a cloud-based developer of personal applications, HealthEdge, administration software for health insurers, Mobile phone advertising company Vungle and 21Vianet, a data center service provider.
"Digital infrastructure is a big issue for us in Tac Opps," said James.
"We have done some data center and fiber business that are all the foundation of this data revolution and people's demand for better information."
By expanding in this area, Blackstone, along with other major investors, is supporting technical assets at a time when digital operations are one of the smartest bets as the pandemic blurs the financial prospects of physical, personal businesses.
For example, the Carlyle Group is another large company that has been active in the technology sector recently. after data company ZoomInfo went public last monthCollect $ 935 million and Eggplant, a provider of AI software, is sold to Keysight Technologies.
As for Blackstone, its size will be an integral part of the field.
"We want to be able to go and listen to companies, we have capital and we have a lot of resources. This capital can take the form of loans, structured equity, we can buy it up in full, or we can have a minority contract. We have it all Shapes and sizes, "said James.
Upon joining Blackstone, Feng will work across the company's tactical capabilities and credit departments. It will be based in San Francisco and will come on board just three months after the company added another technology-oriented dealmaker in the region: Vincent Letteri, who joined KKR in May. Previously, Letteri worked for the KKR portfolio company First Data in the operational area.
"We want your opinion and feedback and bring this technical perspective," said James. "How would Amazon Web Services, Microsoft or Google think about this company or this trend?"