PitchBook + Morningstar: a look back, with exciting times ahead

By John Gabbert
October 14, 2016 View comments (10)

We just announced that longtime investor and board member, Morningstar, will acquire PitchBook. PitchBook will continue to serve Customers as King, execute on our current mission and everyone will remain in their current roles, including myself – which I’m happy about, as I love my job. I am thrilled we are joining the Morningstar family and am excited for the many benefits it will deliver to our clients. As an entrepreneur and founder, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts.

PitchBook started nine years ago at the beginning of the Great Recession. It was both a perfect and crazy time to start a business. Crazy, in that we were launching a data company to serve a financial industry that was deeply retrenching. Perfect, because it made us “focus on focus” – solving a real problem for a real customer. We saw incredibly smart investors stymied by a lack of accurate and timely private markets data, and decided to do something about it. We defined our mission: to help build the great companies of tomorrow by providing our clients the world’s most meaningful business information and resources.  (I’m biased, but if you haven’t seen our data, check out the PitchBook Platform for the best information on the private markets.)

I wrote a business plan to build PitchBook for $3.8 million and we did it as a team for $3.7 million...while slogging and surviving through the Great Recession. We were serious about the responsibility of taking on outside capital (other people’s hard-earned money) and turning it into a real business that was built to last.  In that regard, I think we take an old-fashioned approach, emphasizing the importance of being cash flow positive (we call it “bringing home the bacon”) and creating a business model and great culture around it. We celebrate every client with a thoughtful internal “bacon email” that shares customer insights, provides recognition and reminds us we are here to serve and create real value for paying customers. We invest money in the things that matter – our people (PBU for example), product and service. And we economize in other areas – free coffee and beer in the kitchens but no free lunches or La Croix. Every decision has to serve our customers while making sense for the business and creating a great place to work.

As we near our 10-year anniversary with 600 PitchBook Panthers on our team, this transaction is validation of how far we have come as a team. PitchBook is all about the people – and this team is the biggest reason why we are successful. We call ourselves PitchBook Panthers…because we relentlessly pursue our work like a panther does, and I think we’ve done just that. I’m proud to be a Panther.

Life is too short and the work-days too long to spend it with people you don’t enjoy working with. We hire good, nice, hard-working people and ask: put in a good honest day’s work and then balance it out with everything that makes you happy outside of the office. One of our values is “Make it Fun” – which is really all about enjoying spending time with the people on our team. Everyone contributes to this as a cornerstone of our culture. We work hard, we play hard and enjoy each other’s friendship.  

As we look to the future, I am excited to partner with Morningstar and Kunal Kapoor; they have been with us since the early days and have expertise that will help us unlock and deliver new value to our customers. We have developed a close partnership over the past seven years, and we see eye-to-eye on the importance of data and providing transparency across the entire private and public investment landscape. The PitchBook Platform is the best, most comprehensive database for VC, PE and M&A and represents 2.5 million (and counting) person hours of research and is used by over 1,800 institutional clients in 24 countries. As a part of Morningstar, PitchBook will be able to deliver more in-depth and comprehensive data and research to our clients across the global public and private markets. We will continue to innovate, grow and deliver even more powerful information to our clients.

It is a privilege to serve our customers and we are thankful for the inspiration they have provided on this journey. 

We’ve had the tremendous support of so many people including our customers, partners, investors, advisors and the 100’s of people on our team – both past and present. I’m incredibly thankful and appreciative for the opportunity to work with all of you. 

In particular, I would also like to thank my wonderful wife Susan and our four children Caroline, Madeleine, Jackson and Isabella. I couldn’t have done this without your love and support. 

This is the beginning of a new chapter for PitchBook and I look forward to making the most of our potentiality together.

Thank you,

John

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