What is "Private Equity, aka PE"

In this piece, you learn what "Private Equity, aka PE" is. This article is part of a comprehensive series designed to help you navigate the VC world and its terms and concepts. Whether you're an entrepreneur seeking funding, a student learning about the industry or you’re thinking about becoming an investor, this series is your gateway to VC clarity.
January 29, 2024
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What is "Private Equity, aka PE"

Private equity (PE) is a form of investment that involves taking stakes in companies. Compared to Venture Capital it differs in terms of the stage of the companies they invest in, the level of risk, and the investment strategies they employ.

Private Equity (PE):

  • Stage of Investment: Private equity typically invests in more mature companies that are beyond the early stages of development. These companies may be well-established businesses looking for capital to expand, restructure, or undergo a change in ownership.
  • Risk and Return: Private equity investments are generally considered lower risk compared to venture capital. PE firms often invest in companies with a proven track record and stable cash flows, aiming for steady, long-term returns.
  • Investment Strategies: Private equity firms may use various strategies, such as leveraged buyouts (LBOs) where they acquire a controlling interest in a company using a combination of equity and debt, or growth capital investments to support the expansion of established companies.
  • Operational Involvement: Private equity firms often play an active role in the management and operations of the companies they invest in. They may implement operational improvements and strategic changes to enhance the value of their investments.
  • Exit Strategies: Common exit strategies in private equity include selling the portfolio company to another company, conducting an IPO, or executing a secondary sale to another private equity firm.