As the founder and president of Gerken Capital Associates, Lou Gerken is a foremost name within the venture capital industry, as well as the field of emerging market private equity.
Gerken founded the company in 1989 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Gerken Capital Associates has long stood as an alternative asset fund management firm. Its particular focus is on venture capital and emerging markets. Additionally, merger and acquisition advisory services are offered via the company’s Alliance business unit.
There are many things that make Gerken Capital Associates a unique firm, but one thing that Lou Gerken is especially proud of is the fact that the company is 100 percent independent, totally owned by its employees. There are many reasons why this is positive, but foremost among them is the fact that, as a small firm, the Gerken Capital Associates team members are able to be like “chameleons,” shifting and adapting to keep up with the market’s demands.
Something else that sets him apart is his sheer experience. Here we have someone who has been in this field for four decades—something that very few other professionals can say. That experience makes Gerken Capital Associates a uniquely authoritative company.
Nevertheless, it is the company’s nimbleness that makes it truly special. He notes that, because of the small size of the company, it can adapt to whatever the market throws its way, rebounding and refocusing in a fraction of the time that it might take other firms to do likewise.
A leading figure in the fields of venture capital and emerging markets private equity, Lou Gerken is the founder and president of Gerken Capital Associates. He brings to his work a wealth of experience—four decades, in fact—and a strong desire to provide small-scale, adaptive, flexible services for his clients.
Lou is a man who is uniquely qualified for the work that he is in. Part of this stems from his strong educational background. He received his MBA from the Southern Methodist University Graduate School of Business, preceded by a Master’s Degree in International Business from the American Graduate School. His original bachelor’s degree—in the field of economics—comes from the University of Redlands.
Today, Lou Gerken is heralded as a true leader within his field, and he is frequently called upon to offer his insights and his expertise. As a recognized figure in economics and finance, as well as an expert on alternative investments and emerging markets, Lou is often asked to speak at major industry conferences, including the honor of serving as keynote speaker at Institutional Investor and MAR Hedge conferences.
Additionally, he is frequently cited as a leading financial authority in the media. He has made multiple guest appearances on CNBC as well as on Bloomberg, and he has penned many articles, press reports, and white papers on topics related to the economy. This includes contributions to The New York Times, Barron’s, Fortune, Reuters, Euromoney, Dow Jones, Institutional Investor, The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Transcript, Fund Strategy, and beyond.
Lou Gerken has also authored a book, The Little Book of Venture Capital Investing, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. The Little Book Big Profit series features contributions from some of the brightest names in the financial world, and Gerken is happy and proud to be counted among them.
Earlier in his career, Gerken was a General Partner to Prudential Securities’ four venture capital SEC-registered funds, with roughly $336 million under management. This venture capital fund, Prutech, was one of the largest in the United States. It completed 50 IT and biotech investments, and was one of the first VC funds to pioneer corporate partnering as a co-investment strategy.
Lou Gerken is also keen on philanthropy. He served as the chairman of the Film Institute of Northern California. A non-profit group and one of the five largest independent film companies in the world, the Film Institute of Northern California does great work in sustaining the art of independent filmmaking.
Something else worth noting about Lou is that he is a devoted single father. He has one daughter, currently nine years old, and she is far and away the most important thing in his life. Gerken’s drive to succeed is rooted—to no small degree—in his desire to provide a better, more comfortable life for her.
For all of this, though, what Lou Gerken is most famous for is the foundation of Gerken Capital Associates, a company that he founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989. GCA stands as a leading alternative asset fund management firm, placing a particular emphasis on the emerging markets, venture capital, and M&A Advisory services are offered through the firm’s Alliance business unit.
There are many things that make the firm unique. One of the main ones is that it is nimble and adaptable, something that he attributes to its small size. He has intentionally kept the firm fairly modest in its scope, for the sole purpose of offering more flexible services, and better adapting to sudden shifts in the ever-changing marketplace.
The firm is also noteworthy for the sheer vastness of experience that is on display. Much of this experience comes from himself, of course. Lou brings to the field 40 years in this line of work, which is something that very few people can say.
It is impossible for anyone to say what his or her future holds, and that is all the more true for a man like Lou Gerken, who works in the field of venture capital. The emerging markets with which he works are constantly shifting and evolving; the name of the game, then, is adaptation. It would be foolish for anyone in this field to think he knew the future with anything close to certainty.
With that said, he does have a few professional goals in mind. One of them is that he wishes to grow his business—to an extent. His hope is that, before too long, he hits the $1 billion/year AUM mark. This represents the extent to which Gerken wants his business to grow.
The flipside of that is that he hopes his company remains relatively small, relatively nimble—growing, but not giving up its identity as a small company. This is important to Gerken because he believes his company’s success hinges on its small scale and its adaptability.
Even beyond his professional goals, he has a number of aspirations for the future. One of them is to simply continue being the best dad that he can be. Lou Gerken is a single father of one daughter—currently nine years old—and he believes this is by far the most important thing in his life. His true life’s aspiration is to provide her with a comfortable and promising future. This is the biggest item on his radar, his biggest hope for the future.