Blackstone taps top VC exec to lead Europe growth strategy

The firm raised $4.5bn for its debut growth fund, which has invested in oat milk producer Oatly and music-to-internet company Epidemic Sound.

Blackstone has tapped a top venture capital executive to lead its growth investing business in Europe.

Paul Morrissey has joined as a managing director responsible for the European deployment of Blackstone Growth, the asset manager’s $4.5 billion debut growth fund, according to a statement seen by PEI.

Paul Morrissey

He comes to the role from nearly nine years at Battery Ventures, where he was a partner and helped establish the technology investor’s London office. Prior to that he spent three years at Goldman Sachs advising technology companies.

“Paul is a world-class growth equity investor and his appointment underlines Blackstone’s already-strong commitment to partnering with fast-growing European companies to help them become global industry leaders by providing them with access to a scale of resources not typically available to this market,” said Jon Korngold, global head of Blackstone Growth, in the statement.

Blackstone Growth is the “largest first-time growth equity private fund raised in history”, the firm said on its final close at the end of March. The fund has already made several investments, including buying stakes in oat milk manufacturer Oatly and music-to-internet company Epidemic Sound.

Blackstone first hinted at plans for a growth strategy in 2017 and hired Korngold from General Atlantic in January 2019. The fund will target investment of between $200 million and $400 million in fast-growing companies in the financial services, enterprise and consumer technologies, healthcare and consumer sectors.

Limited partners in Blackstone Growth include Minnesota State Board of Investment, which committed $250 million, according to PEI data.

Growth-focused funds raised $58 billion in 2020, a steep drop from $103 billion the year before, according to PEI data. The market could rebound in 2021 as EQT launches its debut growth vehicle, which is seeking more than €1.6 billion, and Carlyle Group comes to market with a growth equity vehicle dedicated to mid-size private equity deals in North America.