The David Petraeus comeback tour may lead the disgraced former general through the cleansing fires of high finance, where your alleged sins can be washed away with a few stellar exits. He has been making the rounds at a number of New York-based venture capital and private equity firms and one very knowledgeable source said Petraeus is slated to announce a relationship shortly.
The New York connection would make sense considering Petraeus recently signed on as a visiting professor at the City University of New York, the safety academic title to his dashed dream of becoming president of Princeton University.
Sources speculated that Petraeus might have considered Silicon Valley powerhouses like Andreessen Horowitz, which counts former Treasury secretary Larry Summers as a special startup adviser, or Kleiner Perkins, where Al Gore serves as venture partner and Colin Powell as a strategic advisor. But we hear it's neither of those firms.
Maybe the CIA’s loss will be the investment world’s gain. The Carlyle Group — which has never shied from high-profile hires — could surely benefit from bringing on board someone with Petraeus’ leadership skills and star power. As the Boston Globe discovered in a 2008 investigation into three- and four-star generals who join the private sector upon retirement: “When a general-turned-businessman arrives at the Pentagon, he is often treated with extraordinary deference — as if still in uniform — which can greatly increase his effectiveness as a rainmaker for industry.”
The rumor mill is still churning on his turn toward the business world, however. One defense startup whose name came up with sources as a landing spot for Petraeus, and was also mentioned in the peHUB article, is Palantir, a well-funded company that employs the kind of obfuscating lingo a spook can appreciate. (Last year Petraeus requested a meeting with the CEO and both the company and military leader have some experience with embarrassing email revelations):
We build software that allows organizations to make sense of massive amounts of disparate data. We solve the technical problems, so they can solve the human ones. Combating terrorism. Prosecuting crimes. Fighting fraud. Eliminating waste. From Silicon Valley to your doorstep, we deploy our data fusion platforms against the hardest problems we can find, wherever we are needed most.
We've reached out to KKR, the Carlyle Group, and Palantir and will update the post when we hear back.
Update: A source mentioned that Petraeus has a book deal in the works that may keep him occupied. Earlier this week, Buzzfeed reported that Petraeus was "working with the ubiquitous Beltway fixer Bob Barnett, though he has no book project or paid speaking tour in the works."
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