Blackstone is hunting heads and cutting checks as it doubles down on tech

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Good morning, Term Sheeters. This is Fortune finance reporter Rey Mashayekhi, filling in again for Lucinda.

The Blackstone Group is, by most measures, the largest private equity firm in the world. Yet in past years, as competitors like KKR and TPG ramped up efforts in the vaunted technology, media, and telecom (TMT) sector, Blackstone remained more focused on brick and mortar—becoming perhaps the largest commercial real-estate landlord in the world in the process. (Such is real estate’s importance to the firm that it chose to elevate Jonathan Gray—Blackstone’s former global head of real estate, who masterminded its world-beating strategy in the sector—to the rank of president and COO in 2018.)

But these days, there’s been a slight recalibration at the firm. Blackstone is now scaling up its operations on the tech side—staffing up with new hires who are well-versed in the TMT sector, and pursuing an array of tech-related investments in areas as diverse as health care, data centers, and social networking.

Monday’s announcement that Blackstone has lured former Amazon executive Christine Feng to the firm goes hand-in-hand with this new emphasis. In her new gig, Feng—who specialized in mergers and acquisitions at Amazon Web Services, and previously held a similar role at Microsoft—will focus on tech sector investments

Feng arrives a few months after Blackstone poached former KKR managing director Vini Letteri, who played a leading role in guiding KKR’s investments in growth-stage tech companies. Letteri now holds a senior role at Blackstone Growth, the firm’s own growth equity investing platform; Blackstone launched that platform in early 2019, having hired Jon Korngold away from General Atlantic to helm it.

Beyond talent, a raft of recent deals demonstrate Blackstone’s commitment to beefing itself up the tech space. In the past two years, it has acquired a majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ financial data unit, which it rebranded as Refinitiv; purchased mobile marketing platform Vungle for a reported $750 million; and picked up a majority interest in the startup that owns the popular dating app Bumble. This year it acquired health care technology firm HealthEdge Software and invested in Chinese data center provider 21Vianet.

Blackstone’s poised to throw its considerable weight around in private equity tech investing in the years to come. Both Feng and Letteri are based in San Francisco, where Blackstone is actively looking to expand its presence. 

The world’s biggest private equity firm has its eyes firmly set on Silicon Valley; the rest of us would be wise to take notice.

Rey Mashayekhi


Anne Sraders curated today’s Term Sheet.

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