Felix Salmon

Private equity math, Nuveen edition

The WSJ has the details of today’s big asset-management news: TIAA-CREF is buying Nuveen Investments for $6.25 billion.

Heinz: The headline-friendly LBO

Brazilian multi-billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann’s cunning plan seems to have worked. In 2008, when his InBev announced that it was buying Anheuser-Busch, there was an immediate uproar: sites like Drink American and SaveAB immediately appeared to protest the deal. (“With your help we can fight the foreign invasion of A-B. We will fight to protect this American treasure. We will take to the Internet, to the streets, to the marble halls of our capitals, whatever it takes to stop the invasion.”)

Why Dell is going private

Why are Michael Dell and Silver Lake taking Dell private at a valuation of $24.4 billion? Christopher Mims explained his theory a few weeks ago: it’s all about a company that Dell acquired last year for roughly $500 million. Wyse makes PCs-on-a-USB-stick: everything is in the cloud. According to Mims, if you combine Wyse’s technology with Dell’s ability to talk the kind of language that corporate IT buyers love, Dell is now well position to disrupt itself:

Why going public sucks: it’s not governance issues

Marc Andreessen agrees with me that it sucks to be a public company. But he disagrees on the reasons why:

Did Romney put Bain Capital shares in his IRA?

Bill Cohan is the latest columnist to wonder how on earth Mitt Romney’s retirement account got so incredibly large — as much as $102 million — given the limits on the amount of money employees can put in such things each year. Nicholas Shaxson asked similar questions in Vanity Fair this month, and both of them cited the work of the WSJ’s Mark Maremont to help explain what might be going on; Cohan might want to update his link, since the Maremont article he links to is not the one with the real juice.

Annals of private equity, Tamara Mellon edition

When Tony Hsieh sold Zappos to Amazon, there were lots of glowing stories about his monster success. Only later did it emerge that he never wanted to sell at all, but felt forced to do so by his VC backers.

How capitalism kills companies

As Mitt Romney cruises to his inevitable coronation as the Republican presidential candidate, increasing amounts of attention are being focused on his history at Bain Capital, where he made his fortune. Did he create 100,000 jobs, as he claims? Or is he a vulture and asset stripper?

Skype’s options plan and Silicon Valley norms

Steven Davidoff has published two recent columns on l’affaire Skype. The first takes a familiar position: that Silver Lake isn’t evil, it’s just a private-equity shop. I would however take issue with this:

Why Silver Lake isn’t harmed by being evil

How much harm is being done to Silver Lake by the relentless bad press about the way it’s treating its Skype employees? TED reckons that there will be ” real long-term effects on its viability as an investor in Silicon Valley” — but I’m not so sure. Look at what happened to Goldman Sachs after details of the Abacus deal came out — its reputation was damaged, but somehow its business, which is largely a function of its reputation, continued mostly unscathed.