Revolution Capital Group is a young private equity firm that believes it can help The Tampa Tribune prosper by finding new ways to make money from print and digital news, a challenge that has perplexed the newspaper industry in recent years.
"There are going to be changes," Revolution Capital managing director Aman Bajaj told Tribune employees Monday morning. "But obviously they are going to be changes for the better."
Revolution Capital was founded in 2009 in Los Angeles by Robert Loring and Cyrus Nikou, who had spent their careers in the private equity and mortgage banking business.
Loring, a Boston-area native, worked in journalism for a short stint at the Boston Herald but packed up his car, moved to Los Angeles and spent his career helping to buy and sell companies. He and at least two other Revolution Capital officials spent time at Los Angeles-based private equity firm Platinum Equity, maybe best known for purchasing the Detroit Pistons basketball team last year.
Coincidentally, Platinum Equity also jumped into the newspaper business by buying the San Diego Union-Tribune three years ago. It has since sold it to a wealthy San Diego entrepreneur.
Loring also spent time in the London office of Miami-based investment firm H.I.G. Capital but eventually decided to start buying companies on his own behalf rather than buying them for his employer.
He teamed up to form Revolution Capital with Nikou, who started his career in sales and went on to start a Beverly Hills lending institution called Funded Capital. "We are excited to transition into a media company with multifaceted growth objectives," Nikou said.
They acquired their first company, medical apparel company Dove Professional Apparel, in January 2010. They followed that up with two other companies, Cap XG LLC, an online networking tool for finance professionals, and ribbon manufacturer Lawrence Schiff Silk Mills.
The company is new enough that it has a limited track record and doesn't seem to have generated much press nationwide.
To help with its acquisition of the Tribune, the company brought in the owner of a weekly newspaper, the Santa Monica Mirror, to find better ways to publish the Tribune online, in print and on newer platforms, such as smart phones.
That weekly newspaper owner, TJ Montemer, said the use of video on the Internet can be a bigger part of the Tribune's operations.
Revolution Capital is different from most private equity firms, said Loring. For example, Revolution Capital bought the Tribune using its own money, not money from big pension funds and other institutional investors.
"I would characterize us as a long-term, focused investment firm," he said.