San Francisco-based Uber Technologies, the driver-for-hire car service, could use some sovereign wealth money to fuel growth, payback earlier investors and participate in tighter regulatory car service markets. In addition, one reason why a sovereign wealth fund may be a better investor for Uber than a venture capital firm is that SWF capital is long-term and patient (not true in all cases). Generally, a sovereign investor would have less financial demands than a typical VC firm would – enabling management with more autonomy. Sovereign fund money could also assist Uber in opening up regulatory hurdles faster in countries like China, Singapore, Italy or the United Arab Emirates. With regard to China, Uber has already carefully launched in Shenzhen, one of China’s technology hubs.
After private equity money, is sovereign wealth money the next step?
Uber is increasingly being used across major U.S. cities as an alternative to yellow cabs and taxis. Through leaked reports, Uber’s revenues are growing fast; however, competition is mounting with companies like their rival Lyft and other challengers like Gett and Hailo. By receiving a large injection of SWF capital, Uber would be able to grow their network and proliferate in more cities.
Already UBER has moved from venture capital and angel money to corporate VC and private equity capital. During initial financing rounds, Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick raised capital from Goldman Sachs, Menlo Ventures, Bezos Expeditions, Lowercase Capital and other investors. Investor money was used for replicating their go-to-market strategy across new cities. In August 2013, it was reported that Uber raised US$ 361.2 million in new funding in which the capital mostly came from Google Ventures and TPG. This values the company at around US$ 3.5 billion. David Bonderman, founding TPG partner, joined Uber’s board. After private equity money, is sovereign wealth money the next step?
In December 2016, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn became King of Thailand, succeeding his father King Bhumibol Adulyadej who passed away in October 2016. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]
by Michael Maduell
In my frequent and vast interactions with chief executives of small-to-large asset management firms, I’ve witnessed a number of traits that successful firms – meaning growing and retaining assets under management plus getting real respect in the industry – are able to properly execute. Besides generating amazing returns and matching the right solutions for the asset owner clients, CEOs need to be advancing their firms. Of course, quality client service should remain front of mind for fund management firms. In this short piece, I will focus on three traits that successful fund managers tend to possess.
1. Abundant Charisma from Founders
What is memorable and what will stick in one’s mind? A cadre of asset managers possess charismatic chief executives. BlackRock’s Larry Fink, DoubleLine’s Gundlach and Rajiv Jain of GQG Partners are some prime examples that come to mind. DoubleLine is a relatively new player compared to BlackRock and already amassed over US$ 100 billion in assets. Being a founder of the fund management company also helps, as CEO hires (often bringing a book-of-business contacts) may tend to look elsewhere unless generously compensated.
Having an effective cheerleader CEO is essential in nurturing and growing a sustainable franchise in a monochromatic industry of imitators. Too often, CEOs of some asset management firms are pure “salespeople” – too pushy or fake, or a highly-bright number-cruncher with low or nil emotional intelligence.
2. Not Drinking Too Much of One’s Own Kool-Aid
“We are a data-driven, technology, ESG-focused, smart-beta, solutions-led provider of services.” Hey, 2018 did I get that right?
Yes, your stuff does not stink. Like a broken clock, many CEOs rely on the flavor of the year or grappling a playbook, beating the idea over the heads of pensions and sovereign fund clients and prospects. In the long-run – meaning maintaining assets over a lengthy period of time – I find it’s better to be more objective when discussing potential strategies. I’m talking about a healthy dose of informative marketing. However, being overly-transparent or even talking yourself out of the strategy is not what I am directly advocating. It is important to be realistic about the strategy or thematic idea, as the attractiveness of these concepts shift over time.
3. Stirring up Controversy – Strategically
Shaking the tree and stirring the pot – this trait can surely backfire if not properly executed. Being the brightest crayon in the box can work. Even virtue signaling – latching onto a social current – can work in some instances, but CEOs that can deliver impactful counter-culture statements that shock the conscience tend to draw attention – and capital. This might not be the best example; however, upon the ascendancy of Abraaj Group, the firm’s founder, Arif Naqvi, often commented to not describe countries like China, India, etc. as emerging markets but as global growth markets – then creating a comparison to Wall Street and its risks. Abraaj was able to raise a ton of capital, before its downfall stemming from early 2018.
Boards need to diligently examine the CEOs they select. Does the firm want to grow or hold the line for the planned dividend? My belief is that if you are not growing, you are decaying, as the world moves faster and faster.
The views in this article are expressed by Michael Maduell.
Michael Maduell is President of SWFI.
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