Rubenstein wants to bring Bezos to Economic Club

Carlyle Group co-founder David M. Rubenstein — who has locked up big guests such as Google chieftain Eric Schmidt, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and uber-investor Warren Buffett for the Economic Club of Washington — has a new quarry: Amazon.com founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos.

The Buzz has learned that Rubenstein, who is president of the Economic Club, recently sat next to the online retail mogul at a gathering of Washington business insiders, and asked Bezos to sit for an interview. Rubenstein followed up with the requisite written invitation to Bezos — and is awaiting a response, according to a source familiar with the invite.

Bezos and Rubenstein are no strangers to one another.

Rubenstein told the story about Carlyle’s purchase of a money-losing bookseller founded in 1828 called Baker & Taylor, which owned the distribution rights to thousands of books. Years ago, Carlyle was able to negotiate a deal to get stock in an up-and-coming online bookseller in return for Baker & Taylor’s book list.

When the online bookseller went public, Carlyle sold its shares in the online upstart so it could concentrate on its aerospace and defense portfolio. Carlyle, which today manages $188 billion, walked away with a tidy profit.

The retailer whose stock Carlyle sold?

Amazon.com.

A rueful Rubenstein once recounted during an interview that if Carlyle had held onto those shares, the investment would be worth billions.

Developer’s new digs

Forest City Washington lives where it works.

The master developer of the sprawling, mixed-use development at the former Washington Navy Yard and its 24 regional employees left cozy offices on L Street NW in January to become a part of the complex it is creating near Nationals Park.

The staffers are occupying the entire 15,000-square-foot upper level of the 96-year-old “Lumber Shed” on the banks of the Anacostia River.

The historically protected, two-story structure along the waterfront is named for the lumber storage facility that once served the Washington Navy Yard’s ship-outfitting operations.

The building is also going to house five eateries. Osteria Morini and Agua 301 have both opened there. Ice Cream Jubilee arrives this spring, and two more are to be announced this year.

Forest City carefully stripped the corrugated steel exterior skin in favor of floor-to-ceiling glass panels to open up the Lumber Shed’s views.

“It’s a wonderfully light and airy open space in which to work, designed for team collaboration,” Forest City Washington President Deborah Ratner Salzberg said in an e-mail. “We all love the great views of the park and the river all day long. It has felt like we’ve moved home.”

Factoid of the week


$1.8 billion
That’s the net worth of Kenneth Feld, according to the latest edition of Forbes magazine. Feld, 65, is the owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Disney On Ice, Monster Jam and a host of other live entertainment shows. He has moved most of Vienna-based Feld Entertainment — which began as a record store run by his father in downtown Washington — to Florida. He also has gradually begun transferring shares of the business to his three daughters. Feld Entertainment produces 5,000 shows a year for 30 million customers, grossing more than $1 billion. Feld still has a home in Potomac.

The Buzz hears:

CityStash, a Alexandria-based self-storage start-up company, has teamed with real estate company WC Smith to offer exclusive discounts on storage. CityStash stores stuff in bins at its 5,000-square-foot warehouse. The company has 600 customers who pay anywhere from $16 a month for a 34-inch by 24-inch by 20-inch container to $6 a month for a smaller one. The company is owned by real estate developer Tim Friemel and is run by Patrick Halligan. CityStash, which is profitable, picks up the containers. It has a branch in San Francisco and is considering selling franchises. The company’s primary customers are students from Howard, George Washington, Georgetown and American universities — and 30-something single women.

The Mead Center for American Theater is hosting a SwitchPitch event March 27 for established businesses and start-ups in need of technology help, from building a database to exploiting social media. The fee is $95 per person.

Rockville-based Coakley Realty saw revenue jump nearly $1 million in the past five years, from $1,396,626 in 2009 to $2,367,687 in 2013. Coakley, founded in 1989 by Rory Coakley, 54, and his wife, Nancy, recently nailed the sale of a $2.5 million residence in Potomac. Coakley, born and raised in the Washington area, attended Georgetown Prep and is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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