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Ask HN: What should I ask a private-equity-owned company before joining?
4 points by throwaway34872 4 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments
Hi HN,

I've recently started interviewing with a company owned by a private equity company. I've asked some of the usual questions about work-life balance, maintenance, etc, and they seem pretty okay. Some old tech, and definitely juggling a few things at once (they're small), but they don't all seem exhausted, and the old(ish) tech they're using seems to be working for them.

What else should I ask them to make sure it's a good place to work? I'm interested in skills growth, potential career growth, and (mainly) work-life balance.

Ask how much direct influence the equity firm has on the operations of the business.

I've found that the "right" answer should be a middle ground. If they micro-manage, it won't be an enjoyable place to work. But if they sit in an ivory tower and just hand down directives of "Increase revenue by X% this year", that leads to poor decisions chasing an arbitrary revenue goal instead of sustainable business operations.

In a healthy relationship, the business leaders should have open discussions with the equity firm, and collaboratively decide on quarterly/yearly goals that both sides feel are fair.

I don't think the questions should be any different than for "normal" companies. You could ask for some information about the longterm vision of the company.

While not a question, I would strongly encourage researching the private equity company. Some of them prioritize shortterm thinking to just flip a company. This can be bad for the longterm outlook as an employee.

I'm not sure what kind of role you will have. But when I hear "private equity" I'd want to know how much I participate in any upside the firm realizes from its investments. Especially for a small one. What kind of profit/revenue sharing model do they have?

FYI - most PE firms aim to flip a business in 3-7 years with a few exceptions that make evergreen investments. Consider the incentives that drives for the PE firm and management team and ask questions accordingly.

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