The Carlyle Group, the private-equity firm that made its name hiring high-level government officials, has given former Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski a top job.
Genachowski, 51, who pioneered President Obama’s online fundraising strategy in the 2008 election, will become managing director of D.C.-based Carlyle’s U.S. Buyout fund, the firm’s flagship investment pool. The private-equity firm just completed a $13 billion fundraising campaign for the fund.
Genachowski will try to find investments in global technology, media and telecommunications, Carlyle said. The publicly held firm owns stakes in audience measurement firm Nielsen, network provider CommScope, telecom services company Syniverse and SS&C Technologies, a supplier of specialized software to the financial services industry.
“We’re seeing a wave of tech-driven innovation that’s creating opportunities around the Internet, mobile, cloud and media,” Genachowski said. “It’s a great time to be returning to the private sector and focusing on investing and building businesses.”
For example, he said, “I’m bullish on mobile while recognizing wired infrastructure will be critical far into the future. Mobile is going to get bigger and bigger.”
Genachowski’s tenure at the FCC, from 2009 to 2013, was turbulent. He drew opposition from telecommunications companies for leading efforts to place new regulations on their broadband Internet businesses. Verizon eventually sued the FCC over the “net neutrality” rules aimed at preserving an open Internet.
He also opposed the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile, which was ultimately blocked, and backed Comcast’s deal to acquire NBC Universal.
Genachowski is well known on the Washington technology scene. He has been active at local incubator LaunchBox Digital and at the Connecticut-based private-equity firm General Atlantic. He also served as general counsel and later as chief of business operations at IAC/InterActiveCorp, an online company headed by Barry Diller.
While at IAC, Genachowski helped Diller expand the company from two small businesses into a group of technology properties.
“It grew to include Expedia, Ticketmaster, USA Network, Match.com, and a large collection of Internet and media businesses,” he said.
Genachowski was born in Brookline, Mass., and graduated from Columbia University in 1985, where he started as pre-med student but changed his major to history. He worked for Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and the Iran-contra committee before attending Harvard University, where he was a classmate of Obama’s. Genachowski was an editor at the Harvard Law Review when Obama was the review’s president. He also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices William J. Brennan and David Souter.
“Having been chairman of the FCC, he’s got very recent and valuable communications expertise, and you combine that with his past work with Barry Diller and Wall Street, I would think that would be a very fine combination,” said Richard E. Wiley, who was chairman of the FCC from 1970 through 1977 and is chairman of the law firm Wiley Rein. “I’m sure that’s why they hired him.”
Genachowski isn’t the first former FCC chairman to work at Carlyle. William E. Kennard, who led the agency from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton, was a managing director at Carlyle Group for several years.
Founded in 1987, Carlyle has $185 billion under management and employs more than 1,450 people around the world. Allan Holt and Pete Clare are the co-heads of Carlyle’s U.S. Buyout fund, which Genachowski is joining.
Cecilia Kang contributed to this report. Capital Business is The Post’s weekly publication focusing on the region’s business community.