University of Texas at Austin
Two men work together

Texas Private Equity Conference

McCombs School of Business McCombs School of Business

2021 Texas Private Equity Conference

The Texas Private Equity Conference is sponsored annually by the Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance. The conference provides an opportunity for finance researchers and practitioners to discuss current issues of interest to both the venture capital and buyout communities.

Conference Date & Location

February 5, 2021
The University of Texas at Austin
Virtual Event

Register Here
Registration Deadline: February 3, 2021
For Information contact Juana Hardwick at




8:30 am - 8:45 am

Opening Comments


Welcome: Ken Wiles, Executive Director, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance,

                     McCombs School of Business

Speaker: Jay Hartzell, President, The University of Texas at Austin

8:45 am - 9:30 am

Keynote Speaker: 
A discussion with Rich Hall, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, UTIMCO and Jay Hartzell,  
                                   President, The University of Texas at Austin

9:30 am - 9:45 am


9:45 am - 10:45 am

Panel 1:  Private Equity Continues to Reshape Financial Markets

Description:  Private Equity firms continue to reshape financial markets.  There are, for example, about half as many public companies as there were 15 years ago, companies are remaining private longer, and capital is flowing into PE firms at unprecedented levels.  For example, approximately $3.2 trillion in PE capital has been raised since the beginning of 2015, and PE firms now have about $2.4 trillion in dry powder.  In this panel, we will discuss pricing, deal flow, fundraising, potential regulatory concerns, tax and regulatory concerns, and exit opportunities (sale to fund/corporation, SPAC or IPO), among other topics.


Moderator:  Ken Wiles, Executive Director, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity

                        Finance,  McCombs School of Business


Brian Hegi, Partner, Crossplane Capital
Farah Khan, Partner, L Catterton
BJ Loessberg, Principal, TPG Growth
Drew Sweeney, Managing Director, TCW

10:45 am - 11:00 am Break

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Panel 2: The Evolving Venture Finance Ecosystem

Description:  Venture financing ecosystems have evolved substantially in recent years.  Emerging companies are now able to remain private longer by raising hundreds of millions – or even billions – of dollars in private financing rounds at attractive prices.  Alternative exit structures such as SPACs and direct listings have risen in prominence.  Concentrations of talent and capital have grown rapidly in markets outside of the Bay Area such as Austin, and the pandemic appears to have accelerated this process.  This panel will address how VC markets are evolving, how VC firms are adapting to market changes, and how these changes will affect capital raising, deal structure, and deal exit decisions.

Moderator:  Jonathan Cohn, Academic Director, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance

                        McCombs School of Business



Thomas Ball, Managing Director, Next Coast Ventures 

Kathryn Cavanaugh, Managing Partner, Capstar Ventures
Mike Maples, Partners, Floodgate
Alex Moore, 8VC

12:00 pm - 12:15 pm


12:15 pm - 1:00 pm

Keynote Speaker:‚Äč 
Bill Gurley, General Partner, Benchmark

1:10 pm - 2:10 pm

Panel 3: The Evolving Importance of ESG in Private Equity and Venture Capital

Description:  Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) considerations are becoming increasingly important measures of LP, GP, and operating company performance alongside traditional financial metrics.  While considerable attention has been focused on governance measures and their influence on valuation and return expectations, the impact of environmental and, increasingly, social measures of diversity and inclusion on fund and company performance are evolving rapidly.  This panel will discuss how GPs, LPs, and companies are integrating ESG considerations into their investment and evaluation processes, the challenges that each are confronting, and what we can expect moving forward.


Moderator:  Ken Wiles, Executive Director, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance,
                          McCombs School of Business


Amanda Hopper, Sr. Investment Director, UTIMCO
Holly McMullan, Partner, Apollo Global Management
Verdun Perry, Sr. Managing Director, Blackstone

Neil Randall, Director, Private Equity, Teacher Retirement System of Texas

2:10 pm - 2:15 pm

Closing Comments

Speaker:  Ken Wiles, Executive Director, Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance,

                     McCombs School of Business

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Speakers

 Rich Hall 

Rich Hall
Deputy Chief investment Officer

Rich Hall is the Deputy Chief Investment Officer at the University of Texas/Texas A&M University Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) which is the largest public university endowment in the United States. Rich joined UTIMCO from Harvard Management Company where was a Managing Director and served as the Head of Private Equity and a member of the firm’s Executive and Investment Committees. Prior to Harvard, Rich was the Head of Private Equity and a member of the Management Committee at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Prior to TRS, Rich had mergers & acquisitions related positions in industry and investment banking with Bank of America, Tomkins plc, Dell Ventures and Deutsche Banc Alex Brown. Rich served as an intelligence officer for six years in the U.S. Navy prior to earning his MBA from Northwestern University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard. He has served as a board member and Vice Chairman of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA).


Bill Gurley 

Bill Gurley
General Partner

Bill Gurley has spent over 20 years as a General Partner at Benchmark, joining in 1999. Before entering the venture capital business, Bill spent four years on Wall Street as a top-ranked research analyst, including three years at CS First Boston. Bill also maintains a blog on the evolution and economics of high technology businesses called Above the Crowd. Over his venture career, he has worked with such companies as GrubHub (IPO: GRUB), Nextdoor, OpenTable (IPO: OPEN, Acquired by Priceline), Stitch Fix (IPO: SFIX), Uber (IPO: UBER), and (IPO: Z). Bill has a BS in computer science from the University of Florida, and an MBA from the University of Texas. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. Bill is a board trustee at the Santa Fe Institute, a research and education center focused on the study and understanding of complex adaptive systems.





Ken Wiles, PhD, CFA
Executive Director
Hick, Muse Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance

Ken is the Executive Director of the Hick, Muse Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance, and a Clinical Associate Professor of Finance at the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.  He has been published in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Finance Economics, Financial Management, The Journal of Empirical Finance, Financial Analyst Journal, and The Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, and in The Wall Street Journal.
Ken has also been the COO or CFO of several companies, two of which were taken public by JP Morgan and Bear Sterns respectively, and one was sold to Oracle Corporation.  Ken founded and led a restructuring firm, was the managing partner of a money management firm, has worked at three investment banking firms, and was a finance professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 17 years.  Ken is a certified valuation and interest rate expert in federal bankruptcy court.  He was the Chief Restructuring Officer of Turnberry/MGM Grand Towers, LLC, which concluded a multi-year bankruptcy process in 2017.  He is also on the Investment Committee at LBJ Wealth Advisors and on the Board of
Ken was appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval and, from 2011 until 2018, was the Chairman of the Nevada Economic Forum, which estimates the level of state revenues used to establish the Nevada state budget.
He holds a PhD in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).


Brian Hegi
Co-founder and Partner
Crossplane Capital

As a co-founder and partner of Crossplane Capital, Brian is responsible for sourcing and closing transactions with significant cash and profitability improvement opportunities and overseeing the lifecycle of the portfolio.  Brian currently serves on the boards of portfolio companies The Accent Family of Companies, TransAxle and Griffin Dewatering.
Prior to founding Crossplane Capital, Brian was a managing director with Prophet Equity. During his 10 years there, Brian was responsible for sourcing and managing acquisitions with significant value creation upside. He served on the boards of directors of Acton Mobile, Hatch Stamping Company, Groff Tractor and Equipment, Total Plastics, Derby Fabricating and Cummings Signs.
Brian began his career as an operations improvement consultant with AlixPartners and AT Kearney. During his seven-year career as a consultant, Brian’s work primarily focused on optimizing global supply chains, reducing manufacturing complexity, improving product profitability, and reducing direct material costs within industrial companies. These included Tier I automotive manufacturing, automotive aftermarket, food distribution, food manufacturing, electronics manufacturing and consumer packaged goods.
Brian graduated cum laude with a BA in Economics from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from The University of Texas, where he received the Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence.
Outside of work, Brian enjoys cheering on his three kids during their extracurricular activities and traveling the United States supporting his wife’s passion for running marathons. While he was raised in Dallas, he is proud of his West Texas family roots. Brian is a board member and former chairman of Interfaith Family Services, serves on the advisory board for the HMTF Center for Private Equity Finance at The University of Texas, and serves on the board of directors for Southern Methodist University’s Undergraduate Career Center. He is an eternal optimist about the success Vanderbilt University’s football team will have each season. Ping pong is his best sport.

Farah Khan
L Catterton


Ms. Khan is a Partner at L Catterton, the world’s leading consumer growth investor. She started her career at the firm focused on North American growth equity and buyout investments and is now focused on investments in Latin America. Prior to joining L Catterton, Ms. Khan was a Vice President at Sandler Capital Management where she focused on growth equity, leveraged buyouts and financings of middle market companies. Prior to Sandler, Ms. Khan worked at Apax Partners, a global private equity firm where she focused on growth capital and leveraged buyouts in the retail and consumer product sectors. Prior to Apax, she worked in the Investment Banking Division of Goldman Sachs, where she focused on corporate finance and M&A coverage of retail, media and technology companies based in both New York and Menlo Park.
Ms. Khan is a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. degree in Economics and Mathematics. She received an M.B.A from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.


BJ Loessberg
TPG Growth


BJ Loessberg is a Principal at TPG Growth, based in New York City, where he focuses on investment opportunities in the Business Services sector. BJ received his MBA from Harvard Business School and BBA from The University of Texas at Austin.


Drew Sweeney
Managing Director
Fixed Income

Mr. Sweeney is a Managing Director in the Fixed Income group where he trades leveraged loans and is a portfolio manager for the MetWest Floating Rate Income Fund. Mr. Sweeney joined TCW in 2015 from Bradford & Marzec, LLC where he managed loan strategies for both total return and CLO accounts as well as serving on the investment committee where he helped direct the firms overall investment strategy. Prior to Bradford & Marzec, Mr. Sweeney worked for Macquarie Group (FKA Four Corners Capital Management) in Los Angeles, where he managed both bank loan and high yield bond investments. Prior to Four Corners, he evaluated leverage loan and bond opportunities for Columbia Management (Ameriprise Financial, Inc.). He also worked as an Analyst with ING Capital Advisors and as a member of the investment banking team at First Union Securities where he gained additional experience in underwriting, structuring and syndicating leveraged transactions.
Drew holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and a BS from Rutgers University.



Jonathan Cohn
Academic Director

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance


Jonathan is the Academic Director of the Hick, Muse Tate & Furst Center for Private Equity Finance and an Associate Professor of Finance in the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.  He has published in leading academic journals, including the Journal of Finance, Review of Financial Studies, and Journal of Financial Economics.
Jonathan also serves as the Director of the prestigious McCombs Financial Analyst Program, which prepares select BBA finance majors for careers as investment professionals.  In addition, he has served on the Dean’s Faculty Advisory Committee and the Business Honors Program Faculty Advisory Committee at McCombs.
Jonathan holds a PhD in Finance from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis and has work experience in commercial credit analysis.


Thomas Ball
Managing Director

Next Coast Ventures (NCV)

Thomas Ball is co-founder and Managing Director at Next Coast Ventures (NCV), a leading early stage investment firm located in Austin, TX.  Prior to co-founding NCV, he was most recently a General Partner at Austin Ventures (AV) where he spent 10+ years focused on early and growth stage investments primarily in Austin, TX.  Ball has invested in, been intimately involved with and/or served on the boards of numerous private and public companies including Goja, Enboarder, Trust Radius, RetailMeNot (where he was the first investor and external board member and remained on the board through IPO and subsequent acquisition), Silvercar (acquired by Audi), Jam City, Donuts, Adometry (acquired by Google), Bazaarvoice (IPO), Convio (IPO) and Jigsaw Data (acquired by Salesforce).

Prior to joining AV, Ball was a serial entrepreneur having founded or co-founded multiple companies including Razorgator Interactive/Openfield Technologies, Tahoe Domains, and eCoupons.   In addition to his investing and entrepreneurial career, Ball currently serves or has previously served on numerous non-profit boards including Austin PBS, Entrepreneurs Fund of Central Texas, and the Busby Foundation.   Ball holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a BS degree from the University of Florida, and is a Kauffman Fellow.

Kathryn Cavanaugh
Managing Partner
Capstar Ventures


Kathryn Cavanaugh is the Managing Partner of Capstar Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm that invests in the next generation of innovative consumer companies. Founded in 2019, Capstar Ventures invests broadly in the consumer sector across digitally native brands, consumer goods and services and software for omnichannel commerce.
Kathryn has been investing in and advising in early stage companies across healthcare, technology and consumer for the last fifteen years with roles at leading venture capital and private equity firms. Prior to founding Capstar Ventures, Kathryn was a Partner at Grace Beauty Capital, a family office in New York City, where she invested in early stage companies in the consumer sector including Rothy’s, Parachute, Primary, Supergoop!, MM.LaFleur, ThirdLove, Vengo and Pixlee. From 2011-2014, she worked for Mainsail Partners, a $750M growth equity firm in San Francisco, as their VP of Talent and a Board Director for The Bar Method, Inc., a Mainsail portfolio company. Kathryn also served as an interim Senior Executive at The Bar Method, Inc. where she led franchise strategy, operations and sales. From 2005-2010, Kathryn worked for De Novo Ventures, a top quartile $650 million healthcare fund in Palo Alto, where she evaluated, executed, and supported over $350 million of equity investments in early to late stage healthcare companies. She began her career as a Senior Process Engineer with Merck & Co., Inc., working in the US, Europe and Asia from 1997-2003.
Kathryn received dual B.S. degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame in 1997 and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 2005. She was also a member of the inaugural Notre Dame Women’s Varsity Lacrosse team in 1997. Kathryn currently serves on the Board of Directors for Bravo Sierra, Sarah Flint, St. Frank, Museum of Ice Cream and Capstar SPAC (NYSE: CPSR). She also sits on the Advisory Board for Capital Creek Partners, a multi-family office based in Austin, TX..


Mike Maples


Mike Maples, Jr is a Partner at Floodgate.  He has been on the Forbes Midas List since 2010 and was also named one of “8 Rising Stars” by FORTUNE Magazine. Before becoming a full-time investor, Mike was involved as a founder and operating executive at back-to-back startup IPOs, including Tivoli Systems (IPO TIVS, acquired by IBM) and Motive (IPO MOTV, acquired by Alcatel-Lucent.) Some of Mike’s investments include Twitter,, ngmoco, Weebly, Chegg, Bazaarvoice, Spiceworks, Okta, and Demandforce.
Mike is known for coining the term “Thunder Lizards,” which is a metaphor derived from Godzilla that describes the tiny number of truly exceptional companies that are wildly disruptive capitalist mutations. Mike likes to think of himself as a hunter of the “atomic eggs” that beget these companies. Mike received a BS from Stanford University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

Alex Moore


Alex Moore is a Partner at 8VC, a Texas/SF based venture capital fund that manages $3.3B. Alex focuses on seed, defense and enterprise software and also runs 8VC’s Build Program, which incubates 5 startups per year. Prior to joining 8VC Alex was a startup operator for 12 years. Alex was the 1st employee and Director of Operations at Palantir Technologies, a data analytics company, growing the team from one room to 350 people, $100mm in sales. Alex co-founded Backplane, a social media analytics company, and NodePrime, a cloud automation company which was acquired in 2016 by Ericsson.



Sheridan Titman

Chairman and the Walter W. McAllister Centennial Chair in Financial Services
Department of Finance, McCombs School of Business

Dr. Sheridan Titman holds the Walter W. McAllister Centennial Chair in Financial Services in the Department of Finance at the McCombs School of Business. Dr. Titman’s research focuses on the banking, capital markets, energy and investment banking industries. In addition to UT Austin, Dr. Titman has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles; Hong Kong University of Science & Technology; and Boston College.
Dr. Titman’s academic publications include both theoretical and empirical articles on asset pricing, corporate finance and real estate and energy finance. Sheridan won the Smith-Breeden Prize for the best finance research paper published in the Journal of Finance, the GSAM best paper award for the Review of Finance and was a recipient of the Batterymarch Fellowship. Sheridan served on the editorial boards of leading academic journals, including the Journal of Finance and the Review of Financial Studies. He is the current President of the American Finance Association and was formerly the President and Director of the Western Finance Association and a former Director of the Asia Pacific Finance Association. He has also co-authored three finance textbooks, "Financial Markets and Corporate Strategy," "Valuation: The Art and Science of Corporate Investment Decisions," and “Financial Management: Principles and Applications.


Amanda Hopper
Sr. Director of Public Markets Investments


Amanda Hopper is currently a Senior Director of Public Markets Investments at the University of Texas / Texas A&M Investment Management Company (UTIMCO).  She joined UTIMCO in 2008 and is responsible for investing and monitoring a portfolio of external managers focused predominantly on long-only and long-biased equity investments across the globe.  In this role, Ms. Hopper and the Public Markets team are responsible for managing the public equity portfolio for the endowment and operating funds managed by UTIMCO.  Beginning in 2020, Ms. Hopper is also a leader of UTIMCO’s Diversity & Inclusion employee council. Previously, she served in the private markets investment group for the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, and as an equity research associate on the health care team at William Blair & Company. Ms. Hopper began her career in litigation consulting at Navigant Consulting and LECG Corporation, focusing on financial, valuation, and economic analyses in connection with legal disputes. 
She received a BBA in finance and marketing from the University of Michigan, and an MBA with honors, with concentrations in finance, entrepreneurship, and strategic management, from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Holly McMullan
Apollo Global Management


Ms. McMullan is a Partner in the Client and Product Solutions group of Apollo Global Management where she is responsible for fundraising efforts for Strategic Accounts across the platform. Prior to joining Apollo in 2008, Ms. McMullan was a Senior Vice President at Pequot Capital Management where she was responsible for US sales coverage of institutions and consultants. Prior to Pequot, Ms. McMullan worked for Guggenheim Partners, Bear Stearns and Robertson Opportunity Capital. Ms. McMullan holds a Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and a BA (honors) in International Business from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK.
Ms. McMullan currently serves on the following Advisory Boards: 30 % Coalition, LifePoint Health, Capital Creek Partners, McCombs Advisory Council, New York for McCombs and the Hicks Muse Private Equity Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Verdun S. Perry
Sr. Managing Director


Verdun S. Perry is a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone and the Global Head of Blackstone Strategic Partners (“Strategic Partners”), Blackstone’s dedicated secondary fund manager, with $36 billion of assets under management. Since 2000, Strategic Partners has been one of the market’s most prolific investors, having completed over 1,450 transactions focused on the purchase of private equity limited partnership interests and co-investments in leveraged buyout, real estate, venture capital and infrastructure assets. Mr. Perry joined Strategic Partners when it was founded in 2000 and sits on the investment committee for each of Strategic Partners’ funds.
Prior to joining Strategic Partners, Mr. Perry worked at Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhardt, Inc. and in the Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley & Co.  Mr. Perry received a B.A. from Morehouse College, where he graduated magna cum laude and was elected Phi Beta Kappa, as well as an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he was a Robert Toigo Foundation Fellow.
Mr. Perry is a member of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees, where he serves as a member of the Financial Sustainability Committee.  Mr. Perry also serves on the boards of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO) and the Apollo Theatre.

Neil Randall      

Managing Director

Private Equity


Neil Randall is a Managing Director in the Private Equity Group at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. He has primary responsibility for $20 billion Private Equity portfolio and is the Chair of the Private Equity Investment Committee. 

Prior to joining TRS in 2007, Neil was at Convergent Investors, an early stage venture capital firm. At Convergent, he focused on evaluating new investments as well as portfolio management, which included a secondment to one of its portfolio companies, TeraVicta Technologies. He is the current Chair of the ILPA Board of Directors.

Previously, he also worked in the Enterprise Systems Group at Dell and the Capital Markets group at PricewaterhouseCoopers.  

He received a BBA and MS, Finance from Texas A&M University.