Greatness in growth equity investing is defined by much more than a firm’s ability to produce strong financial returns. In fact, solid returns are table stakes for being in the game. From a bird’s eye perspective, hundreds of growth equity firms are founded and exist on the premise of deploying and harvesting capital with a lesser focus on how they actually help companies build real long-term value. There are, however, a select segment who think deeply about what they are trying to accomplish, how they are going to get there and with whom. These are the firms that deserve special recognition – these are the firms who earned a spot on GrowthCap’s Top 25 Growth Equity Firms of 2020 awards list.
As Steve Jobs once said, “The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”
Over 350 firms were considered for this year’s awards process. Ultimately, awardees were selected based on a thorough evaluation of the nominations received. We focused on the uniqueness of each firm’s approach to growth equity investing as well as how effective and consistent they were in building value for their portfolio companies. The best firms were able to consistently produce exceptional results by having institutionalized strong firm cultures, systems and processes defined by a steadfast commitment to excellence.
When recently asked about his definition of greatness, Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time, stated “For me, I’ve always tried to be consistent and dependable and knowing that the team would get a certain level of performance out of me every day…It’s something that’s earned, and I think you have to show up everyday with a great attitude, with a great commitment to winning. There’s really no days off… There’s an intensity to what we are trying to accomplish and if you want to be truly great, you gotta bring it everyday.”
GrowthCap is pleased to announce The Top 25 Growth Equity Firms of 2020.
1. TPG Growth
For nearly 15 years, TPG Growth has been partnering with innovative entrepreneurs, founders, and management teams to grow and scale their businesses. The team brings an established perspective and differentiated blend of conviction, flexibility, and partnership to growth equity that allows them to invest behind unique opportunities early, particularly in markets that are at points of inflection, disruption, or significant change. TPG Growth takes a thematic approach, focusing on identifying compelling business models and opportunities across Consumer, Healthcare, Business Services, Software and Enterprise Technology, and Internet, Digital Media, and Communications. Post-investment, the team aspires to transform companies for the better and drive value by connecting fragmented marketplaces in a strategic, and integrated way.
Today, TPG Growth manages $15.4 billion in assets. Select investments have included Airbnb, Beautycounter, C3.ai, CTSI, e.l.f., Evolent Health, Fender, GoHealth Urgent Care, Jio, Lenskart, Medical Solutions, Nykka, Precision Medicine, Schiff Nutrition, Solara, Spotify, Uber, and Zscaler. TPG Growth and its companies benefit from the intellectual capital, global network, and infrastructure of the broader TPG platform.
2. Blackstone Growth
Blackstone Growth (BXG) is Blackstone’s dedicated growth equity investing platform. BXG invests in fast-growing companies, helping them expand their potential through the power of the global Blackstone platform. BXG has recently invested in the online dating platform Bumble, oat milk pioneer Oatly, and enterprise software company ISN. It gives growth-stage companies access to a massive base of global resources that is afforded to it by virtue of being the largest alternative asset manager in the world.
More specifically, Blackstone is able to offer entrepreneurs access to its 100+ operating professionals and advisors, its dozens of Data Scientists, its 850+ million square feet of eCommerce logistics assets, its group procurement program that purchases on behalf of portfolio companies with more than 450,000 employees, its dedicated team responsible for identifying opportunities for its businesses to sell to its global portfolio companies with $160+ billion of combined revenue, and its insights gleaned from 24 offices throughout the world.
3. Summit Partners
Founded in 1984, Summit Partners is a global alternative investment firm that is currently managing more than $23 billion in capital dedicated to growth equity, fixed income and public equity opportunities. An early industry pioneer, Summit helped to establish the growth equity category and has since invested in more than 500 companies across growth sectors of the economy, including technology, healthcare, e-commerce, consumer, financial services and other industries. Summit’s deep experience and commitment to innovation helps the team to bring a growth-focused perspective to the companies and teams with which the firm partners. These companies have completed more than 160 public offerings and more than 200 have been acquired through strategic mergers and sales.
Summit provides on-demand, growth-oriented support to portfolio companies through three dedicated, purpose-built teams: the Peak Performance Group focuses on revenue enhancement, operations optimization and infrastructure scaling; the Capital Markets Team assists in structuring and financing transactions; and the Talent and Recruiting Team offers human capital resources to grow and develop teams. Summit maintains offices in North America and Europe and invests in companies around the world. For more information, please visit www.summitpartners.com.
4. General Atlantic
General Atlantic is a global growth equity firm focused on partnering with companies that are shaped by and driving technological innovation across its five core investing sectors: Consumer, Financial Services, Healthcare, Life Sciences and Technology. The firm pioneered the growth equity asset class over 40 years ago, and partners with entrepreneurs to scale their vision with the support of its patient capital, operational expertise and global network. General Atlantic currently has $40 billion in assets under management, with more than 175 investment professionals based in New York, Amsterdam, Beijing, Greenwich, Hong Kong, Jakarta, London, Mexico City, Mumbai, Munich, Palo Alto, São Paulo, Shanghai and Singapore.
“We’re proud of General Atlantic’s global team of growth professionals and network of talented entrepreneurs. We share a collective commitment to honoring our firm’s core values of entrepreneurship, innovation and partnership as we work together to drive global growth.” – Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO of General Atlantic.
5. Insight Partners
Insight Partners is a leading global venture capital and private equity firm investing in high-growth technology and software ScaleUp companies that are driving transformative change in their industries. Founded in 1995, Insight Partners has invested in more than 400 companies worldwide and has raised through a series of funds more than $30 billion in capital commitments. Insight’s mission is to find, fund, and work successfully with visionary executives, providing them with practical, hands-on software expertise to foster long-term success.
In 2020, Insight closed its largest fund to date, Fund XI at $9.5 Billion, to continue to provide capital and operational support that suits the different needs of ScaleUp companies in the software industry. Across its people and its portfolio, Insight encourages a culture around a belief that ScaleUp companies and growth create opportunity for all.
6. TA Associates
Founded in 1968, TA Associates is one of the leading global growth private equity firms. Over more than 50 years, TA has helped hundreds of profitable, growing companies in five target industries – Technology, Healthcare, Financial Services, Consumer and Business Services – reach their full potential. The firm’s international team of more than 100 investment professionals seeks to invest in companies with high-quality business models and opportunities for sustainable growth across North America, Europe and Asia.
As an active investor, TA partners with owners and management teams of its portfolio companies, leveraging its experience, broad network of global resources and value-add capabilities to help drive growth and build lasting value. To date, TA has raised $33.5 billion in capital and is committing to new investments at the pace of over $3 billion per year. The firm has offices in Boston, Menlo Park, London, Mumbai and Hong Kong.
Founded in 1995, TCV provides capital to growth-stage private and public companies in the technology industry. TCV has invested over $14 billion in leading technology companies and has helped guide CEOs through more than 125 IPOs and strategic acquisitions. TCV’s investments include Airbnb, AxiomSL, Dollar Shave Club, ExactTarget, Expedia, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, Nubank, Payoneer, Splunk, Spotify, WorldRemit, and Zillow. TCV’s software investments include Alarm.com, Altiris, Ariba, Avalara, ExactTarget, ETQ, FinancialForce, Genesys, IQMS, OSIsoft, Oversight, Silver Peak, Sitecore, SMT, Vectra, and many more. TCV is headquartered in Menlo Park, California, with offices in New York and London. For more information about TCV, including a complete list of TCV investments, please visit www.tcv.com.
8. Silversmith Capital Partners
Silversmith Capital Partners is a Boston-based growth equity firm focused on partnering with, and supporting, the best entrepreneurs in growing technology and healthcare companies. Since its founding in 2015, the firm has raised three funds totaling $2.0 billion of capital under management. Silversmith typically invests between $20 million to $100 million in profitable, growth-oriented companies that have achieved scale in a capital efficient way and is flexible on deal structure. Silversmith’s partners have over 75 years of combined investing experience in the SaaS & Information Services and Healthcare IT & Services sectors.
IVP is one of the premier later-stage venture capital and growth equity firms in the United States. Founded in 1980, the firm has invested in over 400 companies and supported 116 of them through their public offerings. IVP specializes in venture growth investments, industry rollups, founder liquidity transactions, and select public market investments. IVP is typically a lead investor in later-stage rounds with equity investments ranging from $10 to $100 million. The firm has backed innovative companies such as CrowdStrike, Datadog, Discord, GitHub, Grammarly, HashiCorp, Hopin, Klarna, Netflix, Robinhood, Seagate, Slack, Snap, Supercell, Tanium, TransferWise, Twitter, and UiPath and remains committed to its focused strategy of supporting innovation at the growth stage and partnering closely with exceptional management teams.
10. Spectrum Equity
Spectrum Equity is a leading growth equity firm providing capital and strategic support to innovative companies in the information economy. For over 25 years, the firm has partnered with exceptional entrepreneurs and management teams to build long-term value in market-leading Internet-enabled software and information services companies. The firm is investing its ninth fund with $1.5 billion in capital. Spectrum has a flexible approach to ownership and takes on a range of transactional complexities in control and minority investments. Representative investments include Ancestry, Bats Global Markets, Definitive Healthcare, GoodRx, Grubhub, Lynda.com, SurveyMonkey and Verafin. For more information, visit www.spectrumequity.com.
11. FTV Capital
FTV Capital is a growth equity firm that has raised nearly $4 billion to invest in innovative, high-growth companies in enterprise technology and services, financial services, and payments and transaction processing. FTV’s experienced team leverages its domain expertise and proven track record in each of these sectors to help motivated management teams accelerate growth. FTV also provides companies with access to its Global Partner Network®, a group of the world’s leading enterprises and executives who have helped FTV portfolio companies for two decades.
FTV closed its largest fund to-date, FTV VI, in 2020 at its hard cap of $1.2 billion. Additionally, FTV announced 11 new investments in the following high-growth companies last year: Security Compass, Liberis, Centaur Fund Services, Sysnet, Docupace, Bought By Many, Derivative Path, Agiloft, 6 Degrees Health, Lean Staffing Solutions and Paddle. Founded in 1998 with offices in San Francisco and New York, FTV Capital has invested in 120 portfolio companies. For more information, visit www.ftvcapital.com.
12. Volition Capital
Established in 2010, Volition Capital is a growth equity firm with $1.1 billion in assets under management that invests in founder-owned, high-growth, capital-efficient businesses. Volition Capital invests $5 million to $50+ million in passionate founders looking to bring on a partner to help scale their business and maximize shareholder value. Volition Capital focuses on software, eCommerce, and internet companies, with past portfolio companies including Chewy.com, iPipeline, GlobalTranz, VisualIQ, and Velocify.
13. Turn/River Capital
Turn/River specializes in growth capital investments, founder liquidity, buyouts, spin-outs, and recapitalizations of technology, web, and SaaS companies. Its strategy is to combine rigorous, iterative marketing, sales, and operational execution with flexible capital to help companies double and triple their growth and build value for everyone. Turn/River Capital is headquartered in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.turnriver.com.
PSG was founded by Mark Hastings and Peter Wilde in 2014. The firm partners with lower middle-market software and technology-enabled services companies to help them navigate transformational growth, capitalize on strategic opportunities and build strong teams. Since its inception, PSG has partnered with more than 65 companies and facilitated over 275 add-on acquisitions. In 2019, the London-based PSG Europe team was established and has since invested more than €250 million across seven platform investments and 12 add-on investments. The firm is deeply committed to its strong culture and core values and, in 2020, launched an ongoing social justice education and training program for employees and portfolio companies.
“At PSG, we take great pride in our culture and aim to partner with companies who also have strong cultures. We encourage the entrepreneurs and management teams we partner with to never let financial goals eclipse their mission and core values, as we firmly believe that this foundation is what successful businesses are built upon. To put it simply, we truly enjoy working alongside one another within PSG and our portfolio, and I firmly believe that has been a significant contributing factor to the success we’ve achieved together over the years. I’m incredibly proud of the PSG team and the exceptional entrepreneurs that we have the honor of partnering with – they deliver true talent, collaboration and hard work.” – Mark Hastings, CEO of PSG.
15. Kayne Partners
Kayne Partners, the growth private equity strategy of Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P., is a leading provider of capital and value-add benefits to high growth, enterprise software and technology-enabled service businesses in the lower middle market. Kayne Partners seeks to partner with driven entrepreneurs and provide growth capital to fast growing companies across North America with revenues between $10 and $75 million at a transformative point in their life cycle in the following industries: security & compliance, supply chain & logistics, financials, business process automation, healthcare, and media & telecom.
These companies have clear competitive advantages, show an efficient use of capital, and share attractive investment characteristics, including demonstrated track records of growth and new sales, experienced management teams and attractive enterprise customer bases. As an active partner, Kayne Partners leverages Kayne’s institutional knowledge, relationships, and large firm capabilities in the lower middle market of technology investing contributing to the accelerated growth of its software companies. The team’s expertise supporting companies at this stage of growth has contributed to many successful exits to leading strategics, larger financial sponsors, and IPOs/SPACs.
16. Susquehanna Growth Equity
Susquehanna Growth Equity was founded in 2006 to create a different kind of growth equity investor: a firm that itself is funded by entrepreneurs who understand the highs and lows of the journey ahead of every founder. Working with Susquehanna means building relationships with real people, not a playbook. SGE has invested in more than 55 growth-stage companies over the course of the firm’s 14 history. The firm prides itself on its ability to provide founders and management teams with capital without a predetermined exit timeline and expertise to help accelerate their growth journeys.
Norwest is a leading venture and growth equity investment firm managing more than $9.5 billion in capital. Since its inception, the firm has invested in more than 600 companies and currently partners with over 150 active companies in its venture and growth equity portfolio. Norwest invests in early to late stage companies across a wide range of sectors with a focus on consumer, enterprise, and healthcare. Norwest’s growth equity team has a long track record of working with the most innovative companies in the following key sectors: technology (cloud & IT infrastructure, Internet & consumer, SaaS), business services, financial services, consumer, and healthcare.
18. Updata Partners
For more than 20 years, Updata has backed the top entrepreneurs in B2B software. It looks for those rare leaders with both a growth mindset and an appreciation for capital efficiency. Typically, they have built recurring revenue models with a repeatable go-to-market engine and strong unit economics. Their companies are lightly capitalized, and outside the Bay Area. As a firm they have been fortunate to partner with more than 60 entrepreneurs who share its perspective on what it takes to create exceptional outcomes for customers, employees, and shareholders. Updata closed its most recent fund in 2020 at $308 million, and to date has raised more than $1 billion.
19. Catalyst Investors
Founded in 2000, Catalyst Investors is a growth equity firm based in New York. Over the past 20 years, Catalyst has invested in companies across the software, tech enabled services and internet infrastructure sectors, and has established a successful track record of partnering with entrepreneurs and helping companies scale. The firm employs a rigorous top-down research focus that seeks to identify investment opportunities in industries and companies that exhibit strong revenue growth. Catalyst is currently investing out of its fifth fund, with typical investment sizes ranging from $15 million to $50 million. Recent investments and exits include Weave, Effectual, ChowNow, EnterpriseDB, Xplornet, Insite Wireless and PresenceLearning. For more information, visit www.catalyst.com.
20. New Enterprise Associates
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) is a global venture capital firm well known for being a pioneer in growth investing from its earliest beginnings. Headquartered in Silicon Valley and Washington DC, the firm was founded in 1977 by Dick Kramlich, Chuck Newhall and Frank Bonsal. It has nearly $24 billion in cumulative committed capital since inception. NEA invests in technology and healthcare companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle and has a long track successful track record with more than 230 portfolio company IPOs and more than 390 mergers and acquisitions. Notable investments include 23andMe, Cloudflare, Duolingo, Jet.com, Masterclass, MongoDB, MuleSoft, Robinhood, Salesforce.com, Tableau, Uber, and Workday.
21. NewSpring Capital
NewSpring Capital manages approximately $2.0 billion in assets across multiple strategies including growth/expansion capital, acquisition financing, recapitalizations, control buyouts, corporate divestitures and mezzanine financing. The firm has been investing for over 20 years and to date has partnered with over 160 companies at various stages of their lifecycle. Its focus has been on technology, healthcare, consumer and business services, and manufacturing. NewSpring is supported by over 50 professionals and is headquartered in Radnor, Pennsylvania.
22. GS Growth
GS Growth comprises the growth equity team of Goldman Sachs. It focuses exclusively on investments in growth stage and technology-driven companies. Formally part of Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division, the group has over $8 billion in assets under management and is supported by investment professionals across nine offices globally. GS Growth focuses on enterprise technology, FinTech, consumer and healthcare and aims to equip companies with strategic capital for executing on long term growth plans. Notable investments include Acronis, MetricStream, better mortgage, carta, LeanTaas, tracelink, Innovid, and ON24.
23. Eurazeo Growth
Eurazeo Growth is the growth equity fund manager of the larger investment organization known as Eurazeo, which has nearly €19 billion in assets under management. While Eurazio invests across multiple strategies including private equity, real estate and private debt, Eurazeo Growth is primarily focused on driving the emergence of market-leading European companies in sectors arising from digital transformation. Notable investments include Back Market, Doctolib, Farfetch, Glovo, Meero and Secret Escapes. The firm works in close collaboration with European entrepreneurs and investment funds across Europe, North America and Asia. Eurazeo Growth is supported by professionals across 10 countries around the world and is led by managing partner Benoist Grossman.
24. Adams Street
Adams Street has been investing in growth stage technology and healthcare companies since 1972 and to date has partnered with more than 280 companies. Its growth equity effort is part of the much larger Adams Street organization which manages $42 billion in assets and has 10 offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Notable investments include servicemax, Couchbase, Ancestry, Arctic Wolf, Robinhood, and paylocity. The Adams Street growth equity team leverages more than 160 years of collective experience and is led by partner and head of growth equity investments, Robin Murray, as well as managing partner and head of investments Jeffrey Diehl.
25. Five Elms Capital
Five Elms Capital was founded in 2007 and since then has developed into a leading global growth equity firm. Today, it manages over $700 million in assets and is supported by a team of over 50 professionals. The firm targets fast-growing B2B software businesses and provides both capital and strategic resources including recruiting team members, optimizing sales processes, enhancing business development and accessing the capital markets. Headquartered in Kansas City, Five Elms invests in both minority and majority positions and has partnered with more than 40 software platforms globally.
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Growth equity firms invest in companies with proven business models that need the capital to fund a specified expansion strategy as outlined in their business plan. Similar to early-stage start-ups, these high-growth companies are in the process of disrupting existing products/services in established markets.
KKR took over the top spot as the top private equity firm in the world in 2022. As of the end of June, KKR has $491 billion in assets under management, or AUM, and holds a total of 121 companies in its private equity funds. Those companies generate a total of about $223 billion in annual revenues.
The following are among the most significant contrasts between growth equity and private equity: Level of investment: Growth equity is distinct from traditional private equity in that it invests much more money. PE firms often buy whole businesses instead of the majority holdings held by growth equity firms.
Why growth equity is attractive. Unlike venture capital and buyout, growth equity is an appealing form of investing to many prospective applicants because it offers the chance to invest in businesses that are fast-growing AND are established enough to allow quantitative analysis and financial modeling during diligence.