Good evening dealmakers! If you don’t already know me, please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Mary Kathleen Flynn, the editor-in-chief of Mergers & Acquisitions. Feel free to call me MK. I’m excited to let you know that, today, we’re launching a new format – and a new name – for our daily e-newsletter, “M&A Today. The revamped “M&A Today” enables us to speak directly to our audience and share our insights on what’s happening in the world of private equity and middle-market dealmaking.

Top of mind for me today is our latest Honors project, the 2021 Rising Stars of Private Equity. This is our fourth edition of the list. This year’s winners faced unprecedented odds. The isolation and uncertainty of Covid made dealmaking very difficult in 2020, and the reopening of the country in 2021 is opening up the floodgates of M&A now, presenting an entirely new set of challenges. Throughout the ebbs and flows, the 11 investment professionals we honor pivoted adroitly, displaying creativity, flexibility, proficiency and empathy.

I am struck by the range of interesting deals the Rising Stars worked on over the last 12 months. Not surprisingly, tech deals, especially those involving e-commerce, were prevalent. Amara Suebsaeng, who was promoted from senior vice president to principal in 2020, led TA Associates’ June 2021 investment in Stackline, a Seattle-based company that builds subscription-based e-commerce tools for thousands of consumer brands and retailers.

Some deals came from areas you might think would be avoided during Covid quarantines. For example, RedBird Capital principal Niraj Shah helped drive an investment in Fenway Sports Group, an owner of the Boston Red Sox. ZMC principal Jason Sporer led an investment in live comedy producer The Second City, known for launching the careers of many Saturday Night Live performers.

Beyond dealmaking, the Rising Stars contributed to their firms in myriad ways, especially in promoting DEI and ESG. Sarita Gavhane, a vice president of Edgewater Capital Partners, revamped the firm’s recruiting process to encourage the identification, assessment, and recruitment of diverse candidates. Forrest Wilkinson, a principal of Apax Partners, co-founded and helped lead Apax Thrive, the firm’s first support group for the LGBTQ community. Check out my interview with Wilkinson about Thrive, which we published last week.

Take advantage of the opportunity to hear from all the Rising Stars on July 14, when we host our virtual event, Rising Stars in Private Equity Speak. We’ll also hear from industry leaders about key trends in the middle market.

Talk to you again tomorrow! – MK