Huntsman’s Young more than a famous face

Steve Young, a managing director with the mid-market firm, is best known for his career as a US football player but is reportedly entrenched in the firm's dealmaking.

Steve Young, one of the great quarterbacks in the history of US football, is more than just a figurehead at Huntsman Gay Global Capital. He is a managing director who gets intimately involved in deal making at the firm, according to a recent interview on CNBC.

“We spent a good time last year getting to know Steve Young. 45 seconds into it, you realised Steve Young is a competitor and a winner and he takes a winning attitude in understanding his craft,” Robert Smith, chairman of Vista Equity Partners, said during the interview.

Vista and Huntsman recently teamed up on a recapitalisation of Sunquest, a company that provides software services for major hospitals and laboratories. The deal was valued at about $1 billion.

Huntsman Gay was formed in 2007 by former Bain Capital managing director Robert Gay and chemical industrialist Jon Huntsman. The firm raised $1.1 billion for its debut fund, which has deployed more than 50 percent of its capital at this point.

Huntsman boasts some marquee names in the financial universe – including Gary Crittenden, former chief financial officer of Citi, and several professionals from Bain Capital and Sorenson Capital, the firm Young helped co-found before he joined Huntsman. Prior to Sorenson, Young worked for fund of funds Northgate Capital.

Young’s presence transcends the world of finance. Before entering finance, Young played in the National Football League for 15 years, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers. He was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Private equity was a way to stay “energised and challenged”, Young said. “You can’t replicate third and 10 in Texas stadium in the fourth quarter down by seven. I’ve given up on that. There are ways to be energised and challenged.”

Young also works as a broadcast anchor during Monday Night Football, which is shown on cable sports network ESPN. The Monday night event is also a business opportunity, he said.

“Monday night ends up being kind of a living tour of getting people, business owners we want to have contact with, customers of the portfolio businesses, it really works for us and a lot of good has come from it already,” Young said.

While Young  must be at the location of each Monday night football game – whether that’s in New York, Florida, Ohio or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the next day “he’ll get on a plane and fly back to California”, where Huntsman’s main offices are located, according to the interview.

And in his office, you won’t see any reminder that Young even played football – “not a picture or a trophy”, according to the interview.