App to date

Imagine waking up on a Sunday morning wondering about the performance of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts’ $6.70 billion Europe Fund III. Previously, panicked LPs would have to climb out of their beds, fire up their computers, and trawl through their email systems in search of the latest quarterly LP update.

But now, thanks to KKR’s recently launched iPad app, investors can just roll over, reach for their tablet, click on the KKR icon and quench their data thirst immediately.
The iPad app can be used by both new and existing LPs, Scott Lazarz, a principal at KKR, tells PEI. The app, which can be downloaded via the iTunes store, contains fund performance data, information about deal teams, and updates about investments. “It contains all the information LPs would usually receive as an investor in KKR funds, but enables LPs to access all this data in one place,” he said.

“We recognised there was a need for investors to access this kind of information in an easy, interactive fashion, so we decided it made sense to launch this app. Many people are switching to iPads and other mobile devices to get away from having lots of paperwork. Trying to find page 89 in a 280-page document to figure out a particular performance number is cumbersome – and this app aims to take some of that pain away.”

The tool was designed earlier this year. “We went into a demo mode in the first quarter and we had a soft launch in the second quarter, when it became available to our internal employees as well as a number of our investors. We are now broadly launching it to all of our LPs.”

The app requires log-in details, which KKR provides. “The data is sent through a secure channel and we don’t allow forwarding or printing of data from the app. So you have to be in the app to be able to see it.”

For now, LPs can only browse through KKR’s European fund performance and related news – using ‘only’ in the loosest sense. “KKR started its European strategy in 1999 and has made approximately 50 investments in Europe with a total value of $20 billion equity. [That] gives you a lot of data,” he added.

However, if investors are desperate to have more information about the performance of KKR’s real estate or special situations funds at their fingertips, they’re going to be disappointed – at least for the time being. That section of the app is still being built. “The next strategy will go live next month; this will be our infrastructure strategy. After that is in place we will include our real estate strategy, and then our special situations strategy. So we will continue to add to the app.”

KKR says it will continue to monitor the app’s ease of use and responsiveness, based on feedback from LPs. But what it won’t do is use the behaviour of the app’s users to get a better sense of what investors are interested in; according to Lazarz, it plans to leave that bit of the investor relations piece to its human representatives.
“We have about 700 investors, and our Client & Partner Group consists of approximately 70 people that regularly engage with our LPs. This is simply to provide LPs with easy access to some of our fund data.”

The firm believes it is the first GP to set up this kind of tool. It’s unlikely to be the last. ?