Davos Dispatch: Andrew Weinberg, Founder, Managing Partner & CEO of Brightstar Capital Partners Shares Five Highlights from the World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting

I’ve been fortunate to attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos for nearly the last decade. While there are always engaging conversations and interesting themes, I felt this year was marked by a tangible change in the conversations. The emphasis moved from deliberation to action. In session after session and behind the scenes, I noticed a more detailed dialogue taking place – one focused on what can be done to address the most important issues of the day rather than just discussions on what the issues are. Here are some of my highlights:

  1. Stakeholder Capitalism. This year, the theme of the Annual Meeting was “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.” While this concept may seem ephemeral or conceptual, it permeated every session I attended or spoke at, as well as the dialogue on the sidelines. The question wasn’t whether to engage all stakeholders, including employees, customers, communities, investors, and shareholders, but more specifically how to do it effectively.

    Leaders in offices and boardrooms across the world, in both public and private companies, are trying to figure out the answers. With new constituents being the focus of stakeholder capitalism, finding the right balance between them all will be a key challenge that businesses will have to address going forward.
  2. Climate Change Occupied Center Stage. Microsoft certainly helped lead the way going in to the Forum’s Annual Meeting with their recent announcement on a plan to be completely carbon neutral by 2050. With the topic taking center stage throughout the program, I’m optimistic that we’ll see similar announcements from the world’s largest companies often in collaboration with governments and other stakeholder groups.

    There’s no doubt that Microsoft’s announcement served as a catalyst, as did the Forum’s Climate Initiative, but future generations were well represented in the discussion for the first time. Greta Thunberg’s speech attracted worldwide attention and the Forum’s own media analysis showed “How to Save the Planet” was the media’s #1 topic.

    But the key point for me is not the increase in the number of discussions or media coverage, but the dramatic shift in the nature of these discussions towards specific goals and initiatives. Organizations across the board, from incumbents to disruptors to companies and countries with the largest CO2 footprints, are all trying to figure out the best ways to proactively deal with climate change and mitigate climate risk.
  3. From Understanding Technology Disruption and the 4IR to Ecosystem Strategies. One of the more interesting things I did at Davos was moderate a panel on “ecosystem strategies,” or how companies create value by designing orchestrated networks that span multiple industries and sectors. (For a deep dive on ecosystem strategies check out this Harvard Business Review article.)

    We’ve never been at a more interesting time for disruptive technology, or a more critical time for creating ecosystem. It’s a complex conversation, but one that many innovative companies are having. The reality is, given the rapidly changing nature of industries, figuring out how and why to develop an ecosystem strategy is vitally important to any company’s competitiveness. With the stakes so high, it’s imperative to examine the past and learn from examples of organizations that were able to create successful ecosystems, and also from those that failed.
  4. The Rise of Private Equity. One major highlight was participating in a panel on the future of private equity and how themes that other corporate leaders are discussing fit into the asset class. The growth of private equity has been enormous. In 2009, private equity firms completed 1,927 deals worth $142 billion, according to the financial data firm Pitchbook. By 2018, there were 5,180 private equity deals worth $727 billion. That still pales in comparison to the overall capital markets, but it’s encouraging to see both LPs and GPs engaging to better understand what the future drivers of growth will be.
  5. The Shift Continues from Public to Private Markets. I also participated in two investment stewardship sessions, and was struck by the consensus that the massive shift of capital from public to private markets is going to continue for the foreseeable future. In the US, for example, the number of public companies has decreased by more than half since 2007, while the number of private companies keeps growing. Right now, there are roughly 200,000 privately-held and family-owned companies in the middle market alone. For us at Brightstar Capital Partners, that means a continued focus on founder, family and entrepreneur led businesses. We’re determined to understand the needs of these businesses, what they can teach us, and how we can help them grow and successfully navigate the challenges ahead.


Zach Kouwe/Doug Allen
Dukas Linden Public Relations

Renee Noto Offers Insights on US Middle Market Investment in Private Equity Wire’s Special Report: Private Equity Global Outlook 2020

By Mark Kitchen
29/01/2020 – 8:24 AM

2020 Top 10 tech predictions – To introduce the Private Equity Wire Global Outlook Report 2020, the team at RFA has made the following 10 predictions on technology and how they might impact the industry over the next 12 months. We took a considered approach before settling on these 10 trends based on what we’ve seen across our client base, the conversations we’ve had (and continue to have) on a daily basis, as well as from research into business drivers and emerging technology:

  1. Spend on technology will increase (for successful firms anyway). Studies show that profitable firms spend proportionately more on technology than their counterparts with shrinking margins. Interesting that the old adage “spend to accumulate” is appropriate for technology spend too.
  2. Hybrid and public cloud use will increase as the major vendors continue to add more services. BUT this will add complexity so managers will need to engage with experts in public cloud management.
  3. SaaS adoption will continue to rise due to its simplicity, reliability and predictability. From OMS to CRM systems, SaaS adoption is growing.
  4. Serverless Computing will continue to grow in popularity simplifying operations and enabling agility for managers.
  5. Data analytics intelligence will improve workforce optimisation and inform product and service transformation. This is a huge growth area across the sector – we have multiple projects going on with clients to give them better data analytics as well as live dashboards and cloud based data warehousing.
  6. The “digital workspace” will be even more important. Employees expect and will soon demand the freedom, the flexibility and tools to do their jobs well from anywhere without relying on phones or email.
  7. Alternative fund managers will use AI technology to power automation solutions that will drive efficiencies and allow them to do more with less manpower as well as utilising automation tools within workflow management.
  8. Managers will strive to keep headcounts as lean as possible. They will do this by continuing to outsource functions.
  9. Security Operations, Automation and Response (SOAR) will be the buzz phrase of 2020. As attacks increase in velocity and sophistication, so responses must become faster. Intelligent cybersecurity is the way forward.
  10. Technology Risk Management will take centre stage in 2020. Risk assessments are critical for alternative fund managers.


What is your outlook for US middle market investing?
Renee Noto, President, Brightstar Capital Partners
Even though the total number of US middle market private companies far exceeds the number of public companies, the landscape for private capital investments continues to become more competitive. True proprietary deals require more time, more work and new ways of discovery. Since inception, we have been deliberately proactive about expanding our network of relationships among founder and family-owned companies in the United States.
We made a purposeful decision to invest in the infrastructure necessary to build on our strong ties with the communities and business associations that can be sources of proprietary deal flow, and in a communications network that reaches the right target audiences.
In 2020, private equity firms will need to prove they are true value-added partners to the businesses they look to acquire, not just capital. Identifying opportunities to add value will be increasingly difficult in an environment where prices for assets are reaching all-time highs. Firms will need to innovate and think of new ways to approach finding investment opportunities.

For full article, click here


Zach Kouwe/Doug Allen
Dukas Linden Public Relations

Gateway Bobcat Announces Mike Allen as CEO, Succeeding Founder Dan Anich

John Hopper, General Manager of Acme Operations, appointed to serve as COO

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – January 15, 2020 – Gateway Bobcat, LLC (“Gateway Bobcat” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mike Allen as its new CEO, effective January 1, 2020. Allen, who served as President of Gateway Bobcat, succeeds the Company’s founder Dan Anich in the role. Dan has led the Company since its founding in 1990, and will continue to serve as an advisor and member of the Board of Directors. Gateway Bobcat also announced today that John Hopper, who served as General Manager of Acme Operations, one of the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries, will assume the role of COO for the Gateway Bobcat platform.

“Mike is the right leader for Gateway Bobcat moving forward,” said Reidar Brekke, Chairman of the Board of Gateway Bobcat. “He has been an integral part of the Company for more than 20 years, and has shown a great ability to use his operational expertise to help the Company grow and serve our customers.”

Gateway Bobcat is a leading provider of Bobcat® and Doosan®-branded industrial equipment sales, parts and service, and rental services, with 17 locations across the Midwest and Southeast.

“Having worked with Mike for more than two decades, I am thrilled that he will succeed me as CEO of Gateway Bobcat,” said Founder Dan Anich. “Mike has worked alongside me as we’ve grown our company from 1 to 17 locations and worked to create a best-in-class operation. His passion for the Company, our employees and our customers make him an excellent choice.”

“I look forward to helping Gateway Bobcat reach even greater heights,” said Mr. Allen. “Dan is an incredible example to follow, and working alongside him I saw firsthand how his hard work and entrepreneurial spirit helped the Company excel. In addition, we are thrilled John Hopper will join us as COO. He’s helped Acme Operations develop a tremendous reputation in the industry for putting customers first, and he’ll have an immediate impact on our organization.”

About Gateway Bobcat
Gateway Bobcat, founded in 1990 and based in St. Louis, MO, operates principally as a provider of Bobcat® and Doosan®-branded industrial equipment sales, parts and service, and rental services across its footprint of 17 dealership locations spanning Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. For more information, please visit www.bobcatofstl.com.


Zach Kouwe/Doug Allen
Dukas Linden Public Relations