Since the private equity peak in 2007, investments have fallen off, leaving aging cash that must be deployed soon. This presents a huge opportunity for law firms, with an estimated $425 billion in capital overhang.
Fenwick & West is one of the most recent West Coast law firms to bring on high-profile private equity attorneys. With their addition of Scott Joachim as the new Chair of their Private Equity Group, the Firm is building upon their existing private equity presence.
Joachim says over the next two years, "I wouldn't be surprised if there was 25 percent-plus growth in the number of deals, particularly in the tech sector." He says that Fenwick is building on the firm's bedrock technology practice to develop a leading private equity practice in Silicon Valley so that they are ready to meet this demand.
Joachim commented that he views Fenwick’s advantage over Wall Street firms as its combination of a strong track record in the tech sector, combined with the know-how of its beefed-up private equity team, pointing to their M&A work for Cisco Systems Inc., Symantec Corp. and Intuit Inc., as well as their IP work for Google Inc. and Amazon Inc.
"To be great at private equity firm work in Silicon Valley you can't just be a private equity purist, and you can't just be a great technology firm," said Joachim. "You need the killer combination of both under one roof."
Joachim is New York born-and-bred, but has spent the past 10 years developing contacts and experience in the Bay Area's private equity circles. He has recently moved to Fenwick with a team of other hybrid private equity practitioners, including Matthew Stewart, Raj Singh and Vishal Dave – joining Fenwick partners David Michaels and Mark Stevens.
"We have a tech-focused firm that's extraordinarily capable in middle-market transactions as well as the billion-dollar deals," Joachim said. "If you do a tech buyout, you need the strongest tech lawyers in the Valley."
Fenwick private equity representations include their work with Andreessen Horowitz when the fund, along with Silver Lake Partners and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, bought a controlling stake in Skype from eBay Inc., as well as their representation of Elevation Partners with its $100 million investment in Yelp Inc., and Warburg Pincus in its acquisition of A Place for Mom and its investment in Spigit.