Catterton poaches Dell exec

Michael Farello, the former vice president of US consumer marketing and eBusiness at Dell, has joined Greenwich-based Catterton Partners as a partner.

Catterton Partners has poached Dell’s marketing whiz Michael Farello, who is set to join the firm as a partner on January 2. Farello had previously served as a vice president of US consumer marketing and eBusiness at the computer maker.

At Catterton, Farello’s charge will be to help identify new investment opportunities, in addition to bringing his marketing and retail experience to Catterton’s consumer-oriented portfolio companies.

Catterton’s investment palate has traditionally leaned toward consumer products. The firm has invested in companies such Mexican restaurant Baja Fresh, timepiece retailer Watch World, and Kettle Foods, a maker of organic potato chips, among others. 

The addition of Farello follows an ongoing trend in private equity to poach executives from the corporate world as a way to bolster the operations staff of buyout groups. Catterton managing director J. Michael Chu alluded to this in a statement, saying, “We are confident that [Farrelo’s] strong combination of strategic and operating experience in the consumer sector will serve our firm and our portfolio companies extremely well.”

Farello had spent three years at Dell, which according to an August 2005 Harris Poll, rose to become the No. 2 “best brand” in the world. During Farello’s three-year stint there, the computer maker shifted its marketing strategy away from the well known “Dell Dude”, played by Benjamin Curtis, who was arrested for marijuana possession in 2003. Most recently, Dell has signed on celebrities to hawk its products, with Sheryl Crow being the latest to appear in Dell commercials.

Prior to his work at Dell, Farello spent 12 years at McKinsey & Co., where his focus was on the retail, hospitality, media and consumer industries, and he also spent time at Escalate, a VC-backed software outfit that was sold to GERS Retail Systems.