Jason Del Rey and Liz Gannes

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Google Hires Private Equity Vet Gene Frantz for Google Capital Late-Stage Fund

As part of an initiative to invest in late-stage companies, Google has hired longtime private equity investor Gene Frantz, according to sources familiar with the matter. Frantz was most recently a partner at TPG Capital, where he worked from 1999 through 2012.

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At Google, Frantz will be working for a still-undercover group dubbed “Google Capital,” which is run by former M&A head David Lawee and invests large sums in companies that have been around a while and proven that they have viable businesses. Lawee handed over the corp-dev reins to Don Harrison, one of the company’s top lawyers, in January.

Since then, Google Capital has made at least two big investments in later-stage private companies. The first was an investment in SurveyMonkey, as part of a giant $800 million equity and debt round.

And, in May, peer-to-peer lending marketplace Lending Club announced that Google was the lead investor in a new $125 million round.

In both instances, Lawee took an observer’s seat on the boards of the companies, they said at the time.

Prior to TPG, Frantz worked at Oracle Ventures and Morgan Stanley. He recently joined the board of Emulex, which provides connection technology for data centers. He previously served on the boards of wireless firm Alltel, which TPG partially acquired back in 2007, and telecom equipment company Avaya. Frantz’s background raises the question of whether Google Capital will take part in buyouts in addition to minority-stake investments.

Also on the Google Capital team, sources said, is Scott Tierney, who joined Google in 2011 from Steelpoint Capital Partners in San Diego.

Dan Primack at Fortune points out that Google’s efforts in this area in some ways parallel a pattern of hiring former private equity types to do corporate development at Yahoo under Marissa Mayer.

Google held a little more than $48 billion in cash and short-term investments at the end of 2012. The company is already the sole investor in Google Ventures, which has $1.5 billion under management and has invested in 170 companies since 2009.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that Frantz was employed at Google, but declined to comment further.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik