(Bloomberg) — The family office of private equity legend David Bonderman is looking to raise money from other members of the world’s ultra-wealthy as it seeks to expand.
Wildcat Capital Management is starting to build a fund of roughly $500 million with contributions from a small group of wealthy individuals and family offices, according to a person with knowledge of the plan. Wildcat will adopt the same strategy for the fund as it has for managing the fortune of the Bonderman family, which is expected to provide a large portion of the capital, the person said, asking not to be identified as the details are private.
Bonderman, 80, is co-founder and chairman of private equity giant TPG Inc., which debuted as a public company in January. He set up Wildcat in 2011 to manage his own fortune — currently estimated at $4.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — as well as those of a few friends and relatives. The New York-based firm managed assets of $4.6 billion at year-end.
A representative for Wildcat declined to comment.
Private investment firms catering to the world’s ultra-wealthy have increasingly opened up to outside money in recent years. The family office of Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen this year spun out its investment-management group into a standalone business targeting the super-rich, while that of Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli is raising more than $1 billion for its private equity and hedge fund division. MSD Partners, founded by executives of Michael Dell’s family office in 2009, grew into a multimillion business before agreeing in October to merge with Byron Trott’s BDT Capital.
Wildcat is run by Len Potter, who previously managed private equity investments for George Soros. The firm, which shares its name with the location of Bonderman’s home near Aspen, Colorado, has invested in areas ranging from hedge funds to fertility clinics to technology firms.
Lately it’s been beefing up its investment team, which currently numbers about 15 people. Recent hires include a former associate at private equity firm CI Capital Partners and a onetime analyst at hedge fund Cyrus Capital Partners. Drew Tarlow is head of private investments and has worked at Wildcat for almost a decade, while Thomas McConnon joined in 2018 to lead its equities team after co-founding hedge fund Indbada Capital Management.
Wildcat held $260.2 million in US equities at the end of the third quarter, including mobile games platform Skillz Inc. and e-vapor firm RLX Technology Inc., according to regulatory filings. It’s also been active in private placements, boosting its bet on US car-wash companies in January and taking part in a fundraising round for Hong Kong-based gaming firm Animoca Brands that same month. In March, the family office raised its allocation to Glia, a New York-based digital customer-services firm.
Bonderman, known as Bondo to his friends and colleagues, built his wealth buying, fixing and selling companies. After getting his start working for Robert Bass’s family office in the 1980’s, he co-founded Fort Worth, Texas-based TPG in 1992 along with Jim Coulter.
Bonderman shaped TPG’s identity and helped make it one of the world’s most successful investment firms. Risky bets were part of its fabric: The company did business with Russia when many of its rivals steered clear, made early tech investments and created one of the world’s biggest impact-investing firms with the backing of rock star Bono.
He has overseen huge wins for TPG, such as the turnaround of Continental Airlines and early investments in Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. There were also some flops, including TXU Corp. and Washington Mutual, where the firm lost billions.
Meanwhile, his life away from the board room made him a legend in the world of finance. He snowboarded in Aspen, went to obscure music festivals abroad and got the Rolling Stones to play for his 60th birthday party. Bonderman so disdains taxes that for years he kept his official residence in Texas, which has no state personal income tax and where he spent virtually no time.
Early this year, TPG handed the reins to Jon Winkelried, naming him chief executive officer. He now shares a 51% economic interest in TPG, along with Bonderman, Coulter and other senior leaders. So much of Bonderman’s wealth was tied up in TPG that taking the company public early this year made it easier to sell his shares.
–With assistance from Amanda L Gordon.