Co-founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based HGGC (formerly known as Huntsman Gay Global Capital), Rich Lawson is the managing partner overseeing investment activities for the firm's $1 billion fund. He serves as chairman or vice chairman for every tech company the firm owns.
Lawson was the driving force behind some of HGGC's most recent successful exits, including the firm's $1 billion plus exit of its Swiss portfolio company Hybris to European software maker SAP AG. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. Founded in 1997 and based in Zug, Switzerland, Hybris is focused on e-commerce technology. It generated around $110 million in revenue in 2012 and has about 500 customers worldwide.
Also in June, Lawson inked a deal to buy out software company MyWebGrocer from three brothers. MyWebGrocer is the fastest growing company in Vermont and is the largest employer in Winooski, VT.
"When you are buying larger assets, your ability to effect change is limited," says Lawson, who counts former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young as a partner. "In the middle market you can help companies grow and create billion-dollar outcomes. You're not just buying something. You are helping to build a legacy and taking it to the next level. That's what I have been living for the past 20 years."
Prior to the inception of HGGC, Lawson was co-founder of Sorenson Capital Partners, a Salt Lake City-based private equity firm focused on small to middle market buyouts. Lawson started as an analyst in Morgan Stanley's mergers and acquisitions department after graduating from Amherst College with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. He stayed for two years before heading to Harvard Business School for his MBA. Lawson landed a job at a portfolio company of Boston-based Bain Capital, where he met Robert Gay, with whom he co-founded HGGC, along with Jon Huntsman (founder of chemical maker Huntsman Corp.).
Lawson's time at Morgan Stanley prepared him well for his next endeavors. Just out of college, he was sent by Morgan Stanley to Tokyo to do tech deals. "It was real on-the- ground training. They had me working on multi-billion dollar assignments in the tech sector. It was a great place to go cut my teeth," says Lawson.