Private Equity: Creating Side Hustles To Support Crappy Jobs

The question of whether private equity creates or destroys jobs is one for the ages-it’s been hotly debated through all kinds of studies, white papers, surveys, books and conference panels. Fortunately for the already media-battered industry, that debate is not addressed in Michael Moore’s new film about the financial collapse, Capitalism: A Love Story.

But private equity does get one little shout-out in a particularly surprising interview with commercial airline pilots. Moore speaks with several underpaid and overworked pilots who go on food stamps and take second jobs to get by. (Seriously, $17k a year? The second job aspect is particularly scary given this week’s napping pilot incident.) One of the pilots offers that, in order to make ends meet, she sells MonaVie, a healthy juice product that happens to be owned by a portfolio company of TSG Consumer Partners.

The company sells its acai juices in wine bottles for 40 bucks a pop with a direct sales model like that of Tupperware or Avon. A network of independent distributers, which includes Michael Moore’s pilot, sells the products to their peers.

TSG made a “substantial” investment in 2008 and, as of the beginning of this year, watched the company’s annual sales rise by 100%. TSG founder Chuck Esserman believes MonaVie may capture the record for being fastest to $1 billion in sales of any company, according to a profile in Buyouts. I have no idea if selling MonaVie is a profitable side hustle for the independent distributors, but it appears to be panning out as a smart play for TSG.