Elevating Private Markets Through Technology

Originally published in Private Equity Wire’s February 6, 2023, newsletter:

Technology and data are playing a pivotal role in private markets, offering market participants benefits around efficiency, transparency, and smarter investment decision-making processes. Jeff Williams, Chief Strategy Officer at Altvia, shares his thoughts following the Private Equity Wire US Leadership Summit 2022…

Private markets industry events have fundamentally changed over the course of the last several years, and it has nothing to do with Covid. I still recall an event I attended roughly six or seven years ago that clearly marked the beginning of this transition – the topic of the keynote address for that event was “data” and it marked the first time I experienced an event like this starting to shift toward discussing technology’s role in the market.

As this year’s Private Equity Wire US Leadership Summit in New York shows, it feels like you can’t go anywhere at an event like this without having a conversation about technology and/or data. The event was a great success, and hats off to our friends at PE Wire for producing it; it was kicked off in the morning by yours truly, moderating a panel titled “Inflation, Interest rates, Instability…and Innovation: How private equity is dealing with global-macro uncertainty via technology, new structures, and a wider base of potential LPs”. The insights my fellow panelists shared were tremendously insightful. While there was great discussion about broader market conditions, an equal part of the conversation focused on technology’s role in shaping the market, together with the usual debate on macroeconomic and geopolitical market dynamics.

The panel that followed discussed the trend toward outsourcing and highlighted the obvious benefit of many of the technology-enabled services (i.e. fund administration/DD service providers) which are available in today’s market. From there, several roundtables shone a light on ESG and the technology behind properly measuring it and reporting on it.

I suppose I shouldn’t say that Covid had nothing to do with the increased focus on technology because Covid fundamentally changed the way we use technology. However, the technology-related dynamics discussed during the summit were all well under way before any of us had heard the word Covid. These shifts have been ones we’ve been talking about at Altvia for the better part of the last ten years, and this event clearly marked the ushering in of technology’s increasing role in today’s private markets.

Whether it be how certain outsourced, technology-enabled services provide better economics to PE firms or how firms use data to find better investment opportunities and to build investor loyalty – this market is talking about technology more than ever before. The conversation is as productive as I’ve ever experienced, and it’s exciting to those of us who have been waiting fifteen years or so to have it.

Empirically, the number of firms that view technology as a potential strategic differentiator is at an all-time high. There is well-grounded thought on which parts of a PE firm’s operations are best-suited for outsourcing to technology-enabled services, and those that make more sense to be handled internally. For those not able to attend the summit, the latter part of that – a panel discussion – was important, and I’d hate for you to miss it – it’s LP relationship management. There is also a maturing ecosystem of providers covering the professional services and the software/data services.

While it is very exciting to have witnessed this momentum during the event, it’s even more exciting to consider where we go from here. Altvia stands firmly in its belief that we’re just getting started and that in years to come, technology will dramatically change the way that GPs and LPs build relationships – from the process of discovering each other all the way through the long-term partnerships they forge. The way managers use data to find differentiated new investment opportunities and the way they use data to tell their LPs stories about it are what’s next. While it feels like it took us some time to get to what we saw at this year’s summit, I’m certain that the revolution that remains ahead of us is inevitable.

Jeff Williams, Chief Strategy Officer, Altvia – Jeff Williams started with Altvia in 2011, bringing with him deep technical understanding and industry experience as an Associate at a leading Fund-of-Funds, Greenspring Associates. Through his tenure, he has worked extensively internally leading various departments from product, development, and marketing and externally with clients to make the vision of Altvia come to life through the development and launch of products solving the issues facing GPs and LPs.

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