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, Jakarta in 2019 and, most recently, Israel in April, 2022. Today, GA is a global growth equity platform, investing across six sectors – Climate, 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 21.2%, 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 opens an office in Tel Aviv, Israel
General Atlantic has invested in more than 400 growth companies over its four decades.
General Atlantic celebrates 40 years of investing in global growth
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
1Cambridge Associates, “Growth Equity: Turns Out, It’s All About the Growth,” January 2019.
2“The Billionaire Who Wasn’t.”
3Colorado PERA Private Equity Portfolio Report, June 2018.
4Pensions & Investments, “Special Report: Private Equity: Fund-Raising in Little Danger of Dropping Off in ‘97,” 14 April 1997; American Banker, “Parents’ Cash Makes Going Global Easy for Bank Venture Capitalists, 13 June 1997.
5The Wall Street Journal, “With Growth Equity Outperforming Venture Capital, Cambridge Associates Anoints It an Asset Class,” 7 August 2013.
6Cambridge Associates, “Growth Equity Is All Grown Up,” June 2013.
7Pitchbook and National Venture Capital Association, “Venture Monitor,” 4Q 2018.
8Preqin (as of 11 June 2019).