Bob Grady, Managing Director of Carlyle Group, tried to say it humorously, but it had bite. ï¿½I think the press is here,ï¿½ï¿½ he prefaced at a ThinkEquity Partners investor conference in San Francisco yesterday. ï¿½Michael Moore is a big fat idiot.ï¿½ï¿½
Of course, Grady has reason to gripe. Moore vilified Carlyle in his documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11. He said Carlyle was a military contractor that profited from war in the Middle East, and was central to an alleged snug relationship between the Bush and Bin Laden families.
Grady, the leading representative in California for the (yes, it is true, well-connected) private equity firm, now worries what the little old lady passing him in the street thinks of him. Heï¿½s chagrined, he says, by what he calls the misperceptions created by the documentary. Sure, Saudi Arabia is an investor in the firm, but its stake is about 1 percent of Carlyleï¿½s fund, Grady said in aside-comments to us after he talked at the conference. Big state pension funds, like Californiaï¿½s CalPERS, are much larger investors. Carlyle has invested in 50 companies since 1997 and today they employ almost 5,000 jobs. More than half of them, around 2,500 are in California, he said. Carlyle is also a friend of high-tech, investing in storage, servers and life sciences companies, he said.
Interesting, though, is how China is becoming central to any high-technology investment discussions these days. During a panel discussion, Grady predicted that ï¿½20 years from now, if not ten, the financial capital of the world will be Shanghai.ï¿½ï¿½ Another panelist, Joanna Rees Gallanter, of Venture Strategy Partners agreed with him.