The private equity titan has announced the promotion of Jon Gray to president and COO, taking over day-to-day operations of the firm from Tony James, who's held the title of president since 2006 and of COO since joining the firm in 2002. Gray, 48, was formerly Blackstone's global head of real estate. He's worked his whole career at Blackstone, joining the firm straight out of college in 1992 and taking over its real estate operations in 2005. In the dozen years since, he's developed a business that now has $115 billion in AUM.
James will maintain a full-time role at the firm, becoming executive vice chairman. He and Gray will both still report to Stephen Schwarzman, the firm's co-founder, chairman and CEO.
The past nine months have been chock full of private equity heavyweights choosing successors. KKR named new co-presidents last July, while The Carlyle Group announced new co-CEOs in October.
It's easy to forget the extent of Blackstone's reach. While the firm is one of the most prolific private equity investors in the world, PE isn't even its biggest business—nor its division that's growing the fastest, per its recent 4Q earnings statement:
To replace Gray at the helm of its real estate business, Blackstone has promoted Ken Caplan and Kathleen McCarthy to co-heads of the unit. Caplan has worked at the firm since 1997 and is currently the global chief investment officer of its real estate unit; he was previously based in London as head of real estate in Europe. McCarthy, meanwhile, is the current global COO of the Blackstone real estate business, where she's worked since 2010.
That such long-tenured employees continue to move up Blackstone's masthead is little surprise. Like many of its private equity peers, the firm has a penchant for promoting from within.
For example: David Blitzer, the head of Blackstone's tactical opportunities group, has been at the firm since 1991. Michael Chae, Blackstone's CFO, joined in 1997. Joseph Baratta, the global head of private equity, was hired in 1998. Global head of infrastructure Sean Klimczak is a relative newcomer: He only joined Blackstone in 2005—still well over a decade ago.
Check our coverage of Blackstone's 4Q earnings.