I hope this becomes the most useful part of the site. It is where you tell us what it is really like working for a private equity owned company. Please tell us what it was like before your company was bought in a leveraged buyout, and afterwards. We will post comments, after editing, so we all can learn from your experiences.

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  1. Frustrated Clear Channel employee
    Posted December 13, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    PE Thomas H Lee and Bain Capital purchased Clear Channel Communications in July 2008 for $26 Billion. Its been 18months, they have cut staff, consolidated business office operations, consolidated National Sales to one office, therefore cutting the cost of sale by eliminating local National sales teams. Your book said the third year is the worst cuts for PE firms. I don’t see much more to cut in my office. There is no cash leaving the office except in the form of payroll.
    We were notified by email Friday that they were taking millions in loans from the Outdoor division of the company to pay down debt coming due in the radio division. Your book has opened my eyes to who the owners of my company are and what the future holds for the business.
    It used to be fun, great people, good money, not anymore. The writing is on the wall. It’s unfortunate most people I work with don’t have a clue.

  2. Euro Exec
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I had worked many years for US-style private equity ‘managed’ companies in Europe. An experience which proved very beneficial. Now, I know how not to run a company or better how to ruin a company.

    I read through your book in one single night! I can only stress that the situation in Europe is even worse than what you describe in your book as situation in the USA.

    We will see a lot more value destroyed by the looming PE-debt crisis than we ever thought possible by the current financial crisis. The perverse thing is that the PE companies will be able to buy out their way of the crisis once again by gobbling up the loans on the ultra-cheap. PE in its current state should be outlawed at once.

  3. First Data Employee
    Posted January 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I am an employee of First Data purchased by KKR in September 2007. Reading your book was like watching my own autopsy, but I couldn’t look away. I recognized the dangers of the buyout and began educating myself on KKR’s method of operation. At the time I was only worried about myself and my fellow employees. Now I realizee the entire world’s economy is treatened. Thank you Josh for writting this book. I will encorage everyone I know to read it.

  4. PE Employee
    Posted January 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    My colleagues and I spent over a decade building a highly successful software firm. In less than 4 years of ownership by a PE consortium including KKR, Bain, Blackstone, TPG and others, we will never be the same. Once loyal customers are so mad they are leaving and we are powerless to stop it as 50% margins are the norm. Positions have been slashed or sent to India irrespective of skills or true capacity. We will be one of the lucky ones to survive w/o bankruptcy; but we are crippled and cannot get back lost time. Thank you so much for the book and for dedicating it to millions of PE employees; we appreciate it !

  5. Posted October 4, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I bought several copies of your book. A few of them went to friends who work at Clear Channel and now understand what has happened to their company and what the future holds there.
    I also highly recommend which covers Bain Cap and its involvement in eBay-Paypal and many other companies and reveals just how they do business.

  6. Relieved Vertis employee
    Posted November 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    I have been an employee of Vertis (Chalfont, Pa
    ) for over 20 years now. In 1999 Thomas Lee co. bought out vertis and layed them with a 1.5 billion dollar loan to pay off , Well vertis hung in as long as they could but finally in 2008 merged with Color Grapics in a chapter 11 bankrupty, where Avenue Capital took over and at the momment are in a refinacing to clear up more debt.( of course Avenue Capital will collect on the huge fees ).
    Well there is some good news , on November 18, 2010 a majority of the appr. 400 employees voted to become members of the Teamsters Union. ( District Council 9 ) We will finally have a voice over benefits , wages , and working conditions!!

  7. U. of Texas Prof Calvin Johnson
    Posted August 6, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    University of Texas Professor paper:

    The Tax Explanation for the Romney Leveraged Buyouts,

    Mitt Romney accumulated his wealth as managing director of Bain Capital, a leveraged buyout fund (LBO). LBOs are driven by tax savings. Tax savings are transfers from other people to LBOs without any increase in GDP or national wealth. An LBO replaces the stock of established companies with debt. Johnson argues that because interest is deductible, the replacement can increase the value of the surviving stock by two to six times without any improvement in operating income. The increase in debt harms the private economy because the companies become very fragile and the leverage encourages the owner to bet the company.

  8. Posted December 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    My pet name for the LBO gang is private equity underwriter (PEU). They don’t like paying taxes, but are happy to take your tax money.

    Wouldn’t we all love a nondebt, nonequity capital injection?

  9. Posted April 27, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Read your book. While it had some impact on the 2012 campaign, the issue and Romney’s role in private equity should have — by itself — cooked his goose. But it didn’t, though it played an important role.

    I don’t work for a “P-E” owned company, but nearly did. When I was a VP at Lockheed several years ago, PE multi-billionaire Harold Simmons, came very close to taking over Lockheed. We beat him in a shareholder’s vote, but not by much. At that time, what drew him to Lockheed was our over-funded pension fund. It would have financed the entire deal for Simmons, at no cost whatsoever to him. Question: is it still OK for PE firms to cash out over-funded pension funds?

    Before Lockheed and service at the Nixon White House, I was a GOP minority staffer on the House Banking and Currency Committee. There’s no way the Private Equity guys and dolls would have gotten these kinds of “rip-offs” past the Congress in those days. Not even Wall Street could ever get the repeal of Glass-Steagall until the 1990s. Under Bush II and Bob Rubin, it was easy.

    Funny how things turn out, and names and words are defined. As you pointed out, when “Leveraged Buyout” came known as a “cleaned-up” definition for “debt,” they switched to “Private Equity.” As “Equity” becomes ever-more identified as debt. they will have to come up with yet another name change for their insidious industry.

    What moniker will they choose next? Something with the word “slick manipulators” in it, I hope.

    But these guys own the White House, Treasury, Federal Reserve and the Congress. This is without precedent in our history, and only slim slivers of our press are left to point this out.

    At the turn of the century, I pioneered so-called targeted website lobbying. If Google or Bloomberg hosted this form of lobbying, we might stand a chance. But that’s not likely. For those who want to keep track of the power and influence of the PE industry, follow it on

    Your New York Post is one of the few news outlets still not bought by Wall Street.

    Thanks for your lonely efforts — and your editors.

  10. Posted May 28, 2013 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    LESSON TO LEARN: Working for a company owned by a Private Equity firm is different in fundamental ways from working for either a privately-held company, or a publicly-held corporation. Why? Because the goals, and the values, of Private Equity firms are essentially different from those you’ve likely been used to, and those you may be expecting.

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  • About The Book

    Few people realize that the top private equity firms, such as Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, have become the nation’s largest employers through the businesses they own.