Raising ever-bigger funds is one way to grow a private equity firm. Bringing outside investors aboard is another. While some bulge-bracket firms, most notably the Carlyle Group, have been moving in this direction for decades, selling minority stakes is a relatively new phenomenon in the middle market. But the private equity industry is maturing, and at firms founded in the 1980s, some general partners are seeking liquidity. They are also eyeing the chance to expand.

In April, the Riverside Co., one of the most active private equity firms in the middle market, sold a minority stake in the firm to Parkwood LLC, a private trust company. In May, Accel-KKR sold a minority equity investment in the firm to Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Petershill program. Over the last few years, several middle-market private equity firms, including Littlejohn & Co. LLC and Vista Equity Partners, have brought aboard outside investors to fund expansion.

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