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William Blair recruits O’Connor as MD

William Blair & Company has named James O’Connor as a managing director and global head of venture capital coverage for the firm’s investment banking group. Previously, O’Connor worked at MVC Capital.


Chicago, March 11, 2015 – William Blair & Company, a global investment banking and asset management firm, announced the addition of James (Jim) O’Connor, Jr. as a managing director and global head of venture capital coverage for the firm’s investment banking group. In this newly created position, Mr. O’Connor will focus on extending the company’s advisory services among venture capital firms, corporate venture groups, and entrepreneurial hubs in domestic and international markets.

“We are seeing a strong resurgence of start-ups around the world, especially in the United States. The investment banking community will play a vital role in connecting innovative, new companies with both sources of growth capital and strategic advice, and, at the right time, providing investors the optimal paths to liquidity,” said Brent Gledhill, William Blair’s global head of investment banking. “Jim’s strong relationships and unparalleled expertise make him the ideal person to lead our efforts in this channel. Adding Jim to our team elevates our ability to serve start-ups and early stage investors, and extends our global reach throughout the venture capital ecosystem.”

“I’m proud to be joining a firm with such an outstanding client service reputation and I am honored to have the opportunity to extend the firm’s venture capital coverage,” Mr. O’Connor said. “William Blair is well positioned to deliver creative, expert capital markets access and advisory services to early stage companies and investors amid the ongoing global increase in entrepreneurial activity and new business formations. I look forward to providing extensive coverage and building strong relationships across the United States and Europe and other key international markets.”

Mr. O’Connor joins William Blair from MVC Capital, where he led originations of venture capital, private equity, and debt recapitalizations. He is a co-founder of 1871, Chicago’s premier digital co-working space, and founder of the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center. Mr. O’Connor co-founded Motorola Ventures and led over 150 venture transactions and managed 25 exits for the Motorola Ventures fund. In addition to serving as a White House Fellow, his professional experiences include roles at A.T. Kearney, Ariel Capital Management, Sidley Austin, and the Chicago Board of Trade. Mr. O’Connor earned his M.B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. and B.A. from Georgetown University.

In addition to Mr. O’Connor’s newly created role, William Blair’s investment banking group also recently established a Chicago coverage initiative, which is being led by Laura Van Peenan, managing director and a 17-year veteran of the firm. Ms. Van Peenan is working with Chicago area companies, ranging from early stage through large publicly traded, and their leaders and board members, to develop relationships and bring the firm’s services and intellectual capital to bear. She also continues to Chair the firm’s Community Impact Steering Committee, which is responsible for the William Blair Foundation’s community partnership programs.

William Blair’s investment banking group has completed 90 transactions for venture capital firms with a combined financing and transaction value of over $31 billion.

About William Blair Investment Banking
William Blair’s investment banking group combines significant transaction experience, rich industry knowledge, and deep relationships to deliver successful advisory and financing solutions to our global base of corporate clients. We serve both publicly traded and privately held companies, executing mergers and acquisitions, growth financing, financial restructuring, and general advisory projects. This comprehensive suite of services allows us to be a long-term partner to our clients as they grow and evolve. From 2010-2014, the investment banking group completed more than 330 merger-and-acquisition transactions worth $73 billion in value, involving parties in 36 countries and five continents, was an underwriter on more than 20% of all U.S. initial public offerings, and raised nearly $100 billion in public and private financing.

About William Blair & Company, L.L.C.
William Blair & Company is a global investment banking and asset management firm. We are committed to building enduring relationships with our clients and providing expertise and solutions to meet their evolving needs. An independent and employee-owned firm, William Blair is based in Chicago, with office locations in 16 cities including London, New York, Shanghai, and Zurich. For more information, please visit