Unsung PE Legend Joins Perella Weinberg

Bob Boldt, former head of the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), has agreed to join Perella Weinberg Partners as head of a new asset management unit called Agility. He actually had stepped down from UTIMCO late last year, but his destination was only revealed today.

The lead story here is that yet another public university endowment manager has… ummm… bolted for the lucrative luxuries of private sector business. In fact two of them, as Boldt’s team also will include former UTIMCO public markets chief Larry Goldsmith. Or perhaps just the fact that anything Perella Weinberg does seems to set Wall Street’s heart aflutter.

All well and good, but let’s also take a quick moment to remember that Boldt was one of the most significant private equity figures of the new millennium. Back in 2002, with his hand being forced by the political ambition of others (read: John Conryn), Boldt skillfully managed the release of sensitive performance data from UTIMCO’s private equity portfolio – without giving away the farm. Both pro-disclosure and anti-disclosure forced attacked his methods, which in my book means he handled the matter near-perfectly. As I wrote at the time in Venture Capital Journal:

Abraham Lincoln once said that you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Bob Boldt suggests an addendum to Lincoln’s theory. Since taking over in February as chief executive of the University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO), Boldt has learned that it’s also possible to please none of the people most of the time.

To some, Boldt is just another backroom businessman whose initial reluctance to release sensitive fund performance data on UTIMCO’s private equity partnerships indicates an egregious lack of accountability. The Houston Chronicle’s editorial board, for example, wrote in early October that Boldt should resign after proving he is “on the side of those making money off the UTIMCO investments, not the investments’ owners-the people of Texas.”

Equally angry are the private equity partners who feel their nondisclosure agreements were violated when UTIMCO released its private equity returns. They believe that Boldt and the UTIMCO Board of Regents made the move simply to appease local reporters and politicians. Some threatened to sue (none did), while others said that they would probably bar UTIMCO from investing in future fund offerings.

From his tenuous seat in the middle of the maelstrom, Boldt insists that he is neither as callous nor nave as his detractors would like to believe. Instead, he is just a veteran investor trying to do the right thing without simultaneously destroying his alma matter’s ability to make money via the private equity markets.

“I believe in disclosure as someone managing public funds, but there has to be a sensitivity overlay if it is harmful to the public interest,” he says. “There is a level where it becomes harmful, and I hope people don’t go blindly toward that point.”

They didn’t end up going there Bob, and you deserve a lot of the credit.