GAME FOR A CHALLENGE(4)

If you think private equity has an image problem, take a look at video games. At least competing GPs don't literally rip out each other's beating hearts, as do the fighters in the popular game Mortal Kombat.

As the head of the Entertainment Software Association, a Washington lobbying group for the video game industry, Doug Lowenstein argued before Congressional critics that video games are protected free speech, and in any case that most of them do not feature ultra-violence.

As the debut chief executive of the newly formed Private Equity Council, Lowenstein will argue before policymakers and the public that private equity creates far more jobs than it destroys and improves more companies than it chops apart. Challenging pervasive, negative stereotypes is a specialty of his.

A May 2006 profile of Lowenstein in the Washington Post reveals a low-key operative who built a thriving association for an industry that went from obscure to booming in only a decade (sound familiar?) He is described as a good listener and a tireless advocate. “If you're a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, people understand the product. But what Doug has to do is explain the industry and explain the medium itself,” Aaron Ruby, a chronicler of the video game industry, told the Post.

Lowenstein's background includes deep experience in politics and media. The New York native was a newspaper reporter through the 1970s and early 1980s, starting out at the Buffalo Courier Express. He then worked for Howard Metzenbaum, a US Senator from Ohio. From there he joined lobbying firm Robinson Lake, where one of his clients was video game producer Electronic Arts. In the early 1990s, when politicians including former presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman, began calling for curbs on video games, Lowenstein was asked to form a trade association to counter the criticisms.

In his interview with the Post, Lowenstein admitted to being besotted with the Grateful Dead. “My parents didn't get the Grateful Dead,” he is quoted as saying. “For a lot of people today who are growing up, video games are their rock-and-roll.”

This begs the question – is private equity the new rock-and-roll? With Lowenstein on vocals, it just might be.

TA ASSOCIATES PROMOTES EN MASSE
Boston-based private equity firm TA Associates has promoted 12 investment and administrative professionals. Jeffrey Barber, Michael Berk, Todd Crockett, Jonathan Meeks and Ajit Nedungadi, all currently managing directors at the firm, have become principals. Christian Grunwald, John Kossow, Jennifer McAuliffe Mulloy and Vivian Wu have stepped up from principal to vice president. Harry Taylor, a vice president at the firm, becomes senior vice president, while Roberto Ramirez has been promoted to the position of controller from vice president of finance. Six of the appointments occurred in TA Associates' Boston office, four in Menlo Park, and two in London.

EIGHT PROMOTED AT QUADRANGLE
New York-based media and communications investment firm Quadrangle Group has promoted eight staff members. Jeffrey Nordhaus, formerly a vice president of the communications, media and entertainment group at Goldman Sachs before joining Quadrangle in 2001, has become a managing principal. David Crosby, Andrew Frey and Henry Ormond become principals. Stacey Harris, Amanda Siegel and Chun Won Yi step up to vice president. Mike Gillin is promoted to vice president of the firm's fund operations. Harris and Yi specialize in distressed debt, but all the other individuals promoted were from the firm's private equity group.

BEAR STEARNS HIRES RETAIL VETERAN
New York-based Bear Stearns Merchant Banking has brought in Richard Markee as an operating partner. Markee joins the firm from toy franchise Toys “R” Us, where he served as chairman of the Japanese operations and expanded the company's baby products division Babies “R” Us. He was also in charge of the company's international operations, US toy store distribution, information technology and international franchising.

GENSTAR BOOSTS MANAGEMENT TEAM
San Francisco-based Genstar Capital has promoted three members of its management team. Darren Gold has been named managing director, while James Nadauld and Ryan Clark have been appointed vice presidents. “Gold has been closely involved in all aspects of our investment process, including sourcing transactions, expanding Genstar's executive network, overseeing our investments and developing creative exit strategies for our portfolio companies,” Jean-Pierre Conte, chairman and managing director of Genstar, said in a statement.

BLUE WOLF PICKS UP CLINTON VETERAN
New York-based Blue Wolf Capital Management has hired Joshua Gotbaum as an operating partner. He also becomes chairman and chief restructuring officer of Platform Learning, a Blue Wolf portfolio company that provides supplemental educational services. Gotbaum served as Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Economic Policy and Assistant Secretary in the Department of Defense under former US President Bill Clinton. His CV also includes the successful restructuring and reorganization of Hawaiian Airlines as the company's court-appointed Chapter 11 Trustee.

CARLYLE BOLSTERS MD RANKS
A clutch of new managing directors are among 34 global appointments made by The Carlyle Group. Eliot Merrill and Stephen Owens have been named managing directors of US buyouts. Merrill will concentrate on telecommunications and media, and Owens will work in the consumer and retail sectors. Michael Steward has become managing director of Carlyle Strategic Partners, the firm's distressed securities division. All three will work from Carlyle's New York office. Charlie Moore has been named managing director of US venture and growth capital, and Lori Sabet has become managing director of investor services and human resources. Both will work from the firm's headquarters in Washington, DC. Brent Whisenant, based in San Francisco, has become managing director of venture and growth capital. David Daniel and Thomas Ray have also been named managing directors in the firm's Denver office.