Pioneering Growth Equity Since 1980
General Atlantic was founded as a direct investment entity to make large minority investments in growth companies, with a focus on computer software and services. At the time, there were only two forms of private investments: venture capital and leveraged buyouts.
The founding General Atlantic team saw an opportunity to take a thematic approach: identify the sectors likely to produce significant growth and the leading companies in those sectors, and partner with management to accelerate growth.
Over time, General Atlantic has broadened its global reach by first investing in Europe in the late 1980s and then entering the region in the late 1990s, opening offices in China and India in the early 2000s, Brazil in 2008, and Southeast Asia in 2011 and, most recently, Jakarta in 2019. Today, GA is a global growth equity platform, investing across five sectors – Consumer, Financial Services, Healthcare, Life Sciences and Technology – with the same mission as when it first began.
Now an established asset class of its own, growth equity sits between venture capital, which focuses on businesses in the creation stage, and buyout firms, which target more mature companies. Across the industry, growth equity companies generate an average annual revenue growth rate of 17.2%, more than double the growth rate of buyout companies and more than triple that of public companies.1
Learn more about the history of General Atlantic and the growth equity asset class below.
General Atlantic has invested in 388 growth companies over four decades, with approximately $40+ billion of assets under management
More than 4,000 growth equity funds exist in the market globally8
$66.1 billion is invested across 1,057 growth equity deals in 20187
The growth equity asset class is first recognized by a professional organization in a Cambridge Associates research report6
The Wall Street Journal reports that the annual return to limited partners by growth equity funds for the past 10 years was 12.7% versus 6.9% for venture funds and that growth equity was much less risky, generating a capital loss ratio of 13.4% compared with 35.4% for venture capital and 15.1% for buyouts between 1992 and 20085
General Atlantic makes its first investments in China and Latin America
General Atlantic opens its first office outside of the U.S. in London
The term “growth equity” begins appearing in financial media, including American Banker and Pensions & Investments4
General Atlantic surpasses more than $1 billion in capital invested
The Colorado Public Employees Retirement Association becomes the first institutional investor to allocate capital to a dedicated growth equity fund3
General Atlantic begins to expand its investors to include other families, as well as endowments and foundations
General Atlantic broadens its funding sources to include global institutional investors
General Atlantic makes its first investment outside of the U.S. in UK-based technology/software company Synon
General Atlantic has invested in 15 growth companies in the Technology and Healthcare sectors to date
Universal Health Services becomes the first General Atlantic portfolio company to IPO2
General Atlantic is founded in 1980 by a single limited partner and philanthropic entrepreneur, Chuck Feeney, as one of the first dedicated growth equity firms