Moulton rocked

Private equity veteran Jon Moulton has been dragged into the Fox-Werritty scandal hitting headlines at the moment. Aside from the desire to have his political affiliations splashed in the papers unlikely, it appears the media has got his job wrong too

Do you know Jon Moulton, the prominent venture capitalist? No, us neither. We’re very familiar with Jon Moulton, the private equity veteran and turnaround specialist who founded Alchemy and latterly Better Capital. But this guy they keep quoting on TV, who’s apparently a backer of early stage companies? Nope. No idea.

First Round jests, of course. But it ventures (geddit?) that it was not alone in being mildly irritated by the broadcast media’s insistence on describing the venerable Mr Moulton – who, much to his apparent chagrin, found himself dragged into the sorry saga of UK Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox in October – as a venture capitalist. Is it any wonder that the general public don’t understand what private equity means (see p. 4) when even the BBC doesn’t seem to have worked it out?

Moulton’s implication in the Great Fox Hunt is also further proof that private equity and politics don’t really mix. Moulton had apparently donated £35,000 to Pargav, a not-for-profit company set up by Fox’s friend Adam Werritty. Moulton says he was told that the money would be used for ‘security policy analysis and research’, but in fact it seems to have been used to pay for Werritty to fly around the world acting as Fox’s unofficial adviser. Moulton’s revelation that Fox had personally solicited this donation appears to have been what persuaded the Defence Secretary to rapidly become the ex-Defence Secretary.

Even if Moulton has always seemed more comfortable in the spotlight than most people in private equity, First Round sincerely doubts that he wanted his political associations splashed all over the front pages in this fashion. But the more salient question is surely this: given how often he’s in the papers, how come people still don’t know what he does?