May 24, 2023 - Economy

Private equity getting drawn back into presidential politics

Illustration of Ben Franklin from a hundred dollar bill peeking out behind a podium with a spotlight on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The private equity and venture capital industries may be edging back toward the political spotlight, whether they like it or not, nearly a decade after Bain Capital founder Mitt Romney was the Republican Party's presidential nominee.

Driving the news: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, former Carlyle Group co-CEO, is reconsidering a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, Axios reports.

  • Meanwhile, Craft Ventures founder David Sacks on Wednesday will moderate a Twitter Spaces that will double as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign announcement.
  • Sacks already is a regular presence on conservative media like Fox News, but now may be taking a major profile leap into candidate surrogacy.

The big picture: These developments could open up the entire industry to new scrutiny.

  • Most veteran investors have made some bad deals, enemies and/or money when others lost their shirts. Guilt by association may be unfair, but it's also a calling card of American electoral politics.
  • Or, as one of Romney's former Bain Capital colleagues said in 2012: "I'd like Mitt to be president, but I'd rather he just not run."

Deal angle: As an aside, Twitter is having its first really good month since being acquired last fall by Elon Musk for $44 billion.

  • The DeSantis announcement could boost engagement and introduce more to Twitter Spaces. The upcoming Tucker Carlson show was a similar coup, and adding Linda Yaccarino as CEO is a "better late than never" hire. In short, Musk is moving in on Murdoch.
  • Sacks' involvement tonight, on the other hand, is a bit of a head-scratcher. Not because of his personal politics or ambition, but because Sacks just agreed to join the board of Rumble, which should view Twitter as a mortal threat.

The bottom line: Youngkin hasn't yet announced anything and Sacks is currently a peripheral player. But they may become the public faces of private equity and venture capital, for better or for worse.

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