First Round: (Wall) Street cred

First Round is thrilled to report that it offically has a brand new Favourite Person in Private Equity:  Steve Graham, the founder and ‘senior managing principal’ of Graham Partners, a US buyout firm based in Philadelphia.

OK, so First Round has never actually had the pleasure of meeting Graham.

And it couldn’t possibly vouch for whether he’s any good at private equity type stuff (does this look like the kind of magazine intro section where research takes place?) – although its strategy of investing in mid-market industrial and manufacturing businesses with a focus on operational value creation is right up PEI’s street.

No, Graham has earned First Round’s undying admiration thanks to his possession of a skill that is in lamentably short supply in the private equity world: breakdancing. Apparently (and much kudos to Business Insider for bringing this to our attention) Graham caught the bug back in the 1980s when he was an analyst at Goldman Sachs – but rather than hanging up his high-tops when he hit 30, as the Laws of Breakdancing dictate, he’s still going today, at the age of 55.

And he’s not just bodypopping in the comfort and privacy of his own home. Oh no. He’s actually still performing on the ‘scene’, where (for reasons best known to himself) he goes by the name of ‘B-Boy Silverback’. Judging by his clips on YouTube, he still has plenty mad skillz, as the kids may or may not say these days.

Of course, being the high achiever that he is, it wasn’t enough for Graham just to use this as a way of relaxing from his day job as a buyout guy: he’s also created a not-for-profit called the Urban Dance & Educational Foundation, and is trying to get a Pro Breaking Tour off the ground, the idea being that the proceeds will be used for charitable purposes. What a guy.

First Round has always been firmly of the view that there’s not enough hip-hop culture in private equity, so hopefully Graham’s example will pave the way for more. Just imagine how much more fun auction processes would be if the final bidders were whittled down on the basis of a battle rap?