on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 with sales of $363.98 million), Morse was instrumental in persuading Equico to participate in those investments.
Although Morse and Price are both Howard alums, their paths didn’t cross until the 1980s, when they both became active with venture capital in the minority investment industry. Price, considered the godmother of private equity, is credited with linking pension funds and other institutional investors with minority businesses.
Always the activist, Price was immersed in politics before she became a financier. After graduating from Howard, she worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for Sen. Richard Schweiker (R-Pa). While working for her home-state senator, she handled issues related to small business and minority enterprise and economic development.
In 1977, the then 27-year-old Price left politics to work in a similar capacity for the National Association of Minority Enterprise Small Business Investment Companies (MESBICs), which later became the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC). The organization, developed years earlier through President Richard Nixon’s Black Capitalism program, sought to stimulate the flow of private equity capital and loans to minority small businesses. Through Price’s efforts, it became the premier trade association for investment companies dedicated to providing financial resources for ethnic business owners. In fact, MESBIC financing was responsible for providing capital to large numbers of BE 100S companies in the 1970s. By 1983, Price became president of NAIC and, under her leadership, she steered private equity member firms to diversify their resources for investment capital. “In the 1970s, the firms were getting capital from corporations and individuals but they were not accessing large pools of institutional capital,” recalls Price, who identified public and private pension funds as a new class of investors and connected them to past BE 100S companies like Reginald Lewis’ TLC Group and Essence Communications.
In Price’s 11th year as president, she met with a group of NAIC members and came up with the idea of a private equity fund that would finance other funds: Fairview. “We had a committee and once they decided it should be a fund of funds, they asked me to be the general partner,” recalls Price. For such an ambitious undertaking, the visionary Price needed to shoulder part of the load with a nuts-and-bolts money manager.
Enter Morse. “We are here primarily to make money. If we lose sight of that then we don’t make the best business decisions,” Morse says. Price concedes that “Larry has helped me to develop that [mindset], and conversely I have helped him with a few things.”
FOCUSING ON UNDERSERVED MARKETS
On a chilly March day, the dynamic duo prepares to review yet another investment opportunity. Through a conference room’s panoramic glass wall are four black men dressed in dark suits. The men are SYNCOM founder Terry Jones and his partners. This small cadre of financiers just flew in for a few hours from their Silver Spring, Maryland, office to present Morse and Price with an opportunity to invest in their new fund, SYNCOM V.
Although Fairview is a sole limited partner in