Bistrong, longtime head of TMT at Harris Williams, joins PE firm Greater Sum

  • Bistrong launched Harris Williams TMT group in 2006
  • Croley founded Ministry Brands in 2012
  • Croley started Greater Sum Ventures in 2016

Jeff Bistrong is leaving Harris Williams after 17 years and joining a private equity firm, four sources said.

Bistrong began at Harris Williams in 2002, his LinkedIn profile said. He is credited with launching the technology, media and telecom group at Harris Williams in 2006. Bistrong is currently group head of TMT and a managing director at the middle-market IB.

Harris Williams is known for advising PE firms. Clients have included Visa Equity Partners, Francisco Partners and General Atlantic.

Bistrong apparently has a strong relationship with Ministry Brands, a provider of cloud-based technology for faith-based institutions, including churches, schools and camps, that PE firms have owned.

Led by Bistrong, Harris Williams advised Ministry in its recap by Genstar Capital in 2015. When Ministry was sold to Insight Venture Partners in 2016, it was Harris Williams — led by Bistrong – that advised.

Ministry Brands is up for sale again, Buyouts reported in February. This time, FT Partners is working on the process, the story said.

“This is a huge hole to fill at HW,” one of the sources said of Bistrong’s departure.

“Jeff has been a longtime banker at Harris Williams,” a second person said. “He did a great job building the tech practice.”

Neither Bistrong nor Harris Williams returned requests for comment.

Bistrong is joining Greater Sum Ventures, the PE firm from Ross Croley, the people said. Croley, founder of Ministry Brands, launched GSV in 2016, his LinkedIn said.

GSV, Knoxville, Tennessee, is a lower-middle-market growth firm that invests in tech-enabled business-services companies.

Switches to PE are not uncommon; many executives were previously bankers. For example, James Hickey, a principal at Vista Equity, is former head of technology investment banking at William Blair. Robert Smith, who founded Vista, is an ex-Goldman Sachs banker.

Last year, Eric Roth left Lazard Middle Market, where he was head of the consumer retail group, to join MidOcean Partners.

GSV has already produced exits. In 2018, Lightyear Capital and Oak HC/FT acquired a majority of Therapy Brands. Providence Strategic Growth and GSV, the sellers, retained a minority. Therapy Brands, parent of Theranest, provides software for mental- and behavioral-health providers.

Insight, in February 2018, invested in Property Brands, which is listed as a GSV portfolio company. Property Brands provides property-management software. Harris Williams advised on both transactions.

GSV could not be reached for comment.

Action Item: Contact Bistrong at jbistrong@harriswilliams.com