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David Novak: Views from World Economic Forum in Davos

The World Economic Forum held its annual meeting recently in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. There was plenty of snow this year, but no one focused much on hitting the slopes. This was one of the most anticipated Davos gatherings in years. The reasons are obvious: There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions: What were the reactions – and more importantly, what should business leaders globally make sure to understand? To find out, we spoke with


Josh Lerner on Private Equity, Employment, and Management

It’s an age old question across all types of investing: can you have it all? In other words, can investors get the twin benefits of doing well and doing good? For the various private equity participants, the question has become more urgent over the last several years, particularly around ESG, Environmental, Social and Governance issues. As requirements around doing good increase from politicians, LPs, employees, even GPs, the need for GPs and LPs to deliver it all continues to rise. Put...


How Family Firms Ensure Long-Term Value Creation with Claudia Zeisberger of INSEAD

The question seems simple: How Can Family Firms Ensure Long-Term Value Creation? But as a new report – based on interviews 123 Asia-based family firms and 14 private equity professionals – shows, the answer may be more complicated. The report is titled “The Institutionalization of Family Firms,” and it covers a significant driver of the global economy. As the study notes: “As family firms account for 70% of GDP in the global economy and 60% of global employment, the importance of...


What is Private Equity? - Claudia Zeisberger of INSEAD

For years, Claudia Zeisberger has found herself being asked what might seem like a straightforward question: What is Private Equity. It also might seem like a surprising question, given that global private equity assets under management run at about $2.5 trillion. It’s not like we’re talking about some hidden asset class. But the question came frequently and in different forms – sometimes about doing PE deals, other times about managing PE investments, still others about Fund Management...


Performance and persistence in private equity — Josh Lerner, Harvard Business School

Conventional wisdom in private equity has often gone like this: Performance persists across funds for the same partnership. But the view over the last years is mixed. One 2014 study found that post-2000, there was “little evidence of persistence for buyout funds, except at the lower end of the performance distribution.” The question was addressed again recently at A Roundtable Sponsored by the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing and the Private Capital Research Institute. Here a...


HowSilicon Valley Farming Startup Addresses Extreme Poverty, Global Food Shortage — John Denniston, Chairman of Shared X

The problem is challenging and enduring – and to listen to John Denniston, it also just may present the perfect opportunity to both do good and well. It’s called the Yield Gap – the difference in agriculture yield from farms in developed countries – which are more efficient and deliver more food per acre – vs. emerging countries, which are, of course, the very places where food is most needed. And that gap is part of the reason why Denniston, whose career has included investing in green...


How the Internet Can Help Stop Human Rights Abuse

This is special edition of Working Capital Conversations. Sadly, there is no shortage of work these days for global human rights abuse investigators. From Syria to Yemen to Sudan and beyond, the horrible ways in which humans torture, starve, and kill other humans seems unending. We all condemn the horrors, but most of us find ourselves with little opportunity to do anything directly. Today I’m talking with someone who does. Alexa Koenig is Executive Director of the Human Rights Center...


Corporate Boards Need Investor Relations Expertise

It’s no secret that corporate boards have increasingly come under increased scrutiny. And for good reason. From corporate scandal to CEO compensation, from cyber security to risk, investors and the general public want to know who’s in charge – and who’s keeping an eye on management. And with this scrutiny, the makeup of corporate boards is slowly shifting, too – away from clubby groups and towards a collection of experts — finance, human resources, law, and more. But what about Investor...


Investing Into Uncertainty — Lessons from Endowment Investing

Warren Buffett once said on CNBC: “The world—there’s always uncertainty. Now the question is, what do you do with your money?” Buffett may have been talking about public markets – even personal – investing. But even on the institutional side, given that we are continually surrounded by uncertainty and given that stuffing cash under a mattress – while relatively certain – carries no financial return, how should today’s institutional investors think about uncertainty? More specifically, is...


E-Commerce Innovation with Liza Landsman, Jet Chief Customer Officer

As we approach the depths of the Christmas buying season, today we head straight to the core of holiday spirit: e-commerce and online shopping. Chances are, if you’re shopping this season – or, really, any day of the year – you do some, if not all of it, online. Few industries are bigger than e-commerce, with online sales expected to break $400 billion within three years.


Strategic Conversations: ‘The Biology of Corporate Survival’

A recent Harvard Business Review piece by Martin Reeves and Simon Levin laid out the case. It’s titled “The Biology of Corporate Survival.” Numbers explain why it matters: After reviewing the histories of more than 30,000 U.S. public firms over 50 years, the authors found that “Businesses are disappearing faster than ever before.”


Economics of Successful Partnerships: Josh Lerner

The premise behind any business partnership seems obvious: Build a structure and set of rules around performance and profits that not only create agreed upon fairness, but more importantly, position the partnership for long-term success.