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How TPG Learned to Love Disruption

Jim Coulter and Jon Winkelried say avoiding New York City helps TPG make early bets on disruptors.

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TPG, with more than $104 billion under management, is an established contrarian in the private equity industry. Founded in 1992 by David Bonderman and Jim Coulter, two alumni of the Robert M. Bass Group, the company once known as the Texas Pacific Group has headquarters in Fort Worth and San Francisco. It remains a partnership when most rivals have gone public. And it’s expanded into areas such as credit, real estate, and early-stage technology investments, with notable success in the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. When Bonderman decided to step down as co-chief executive officer in 2015, Coulter recruited Jon Winkelried, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive.

Replacing a founder is never easy. Winkelried’s task list—including putting structure on an intentionally unstructured group of dealmakers and creating a more diverse workforce—got even trickier this year. William McGlashan, the star manager of TPG’s growth and social impact funds, was charged in an alleged criminal conspiracy to rig U.S. college admissions. (He pleaded not guilty.) He was pushed out of TPG, and Coulter assumed his responsibilities. An internal investigation found McGlashan in 2017 introduced TPG funds to the admissions scam’s ringleader, who pitched them on his ideas, but the funds passed on investing with him.