The former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has taken a senior role at the Carlyle Group, a big private equity firm with long-standing connections in Washington.
Julius Genachowski, who was chairman of the FCC until last May, joins Carlyle as a managing director and partner in the U.S. buyout group, the firm said Monday. Genachowski, a proponent of a free and open Internet, will work on investments in the technology, media and telecommunications sectors, including the Internet and mobile. In moving to private equity, Genachowski, 51, follows a well-worn path for former government officials who go to work in the private sector. Timothy Geithner, a former Treasury secretary, is expected to join the private equity firm Warburg Pincus as president in March. Last year, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts hired David H. Petraeus, who resigned as director of the CIA in 2012, as chairman of the KKR Global Institute.
Carlyle, based in Washington, has hired a number of Beltway insiders over the years, including an additional former FCC chairman, William Kennard, who spent eight years at the firm after leaving the commission in 2001. Last year, Carlyle hired Barrett Karr, majority staff director of the House Education and Workforce Committee, to lead its U.S. government affairs.
Genachowski worked in media and the Internet before President Barack Obama tapped him in 2009 to run the FCC. Some consumer advocates expressed concern that in his new job he could be capitalizing on his government connections.
But Genachowski will not work directly in the industry he regulated, making him a more complicated target for critics. "This is probably the least bad thing you can do if you're going to stay in the private sector," said Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge, a consumer group focused on digital rights.
A proponent of so-called net neutrality, Genachowski used his perch at the FCC to support rules against discrimination by Internet service providers over what content they carry, putting the agency in conflict with the likes of Verizon. He also successfully opposed the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. Still, his tenure drew criticism from some consumer advocates, who said he did not do enough to push for an open Internet.
At Carlyle, Genachowski will use some of the same muscles he developed at the Internet and media company IAC/InterActiveCorp, where he held senior roles for eight years. After joining the firm in 1997, Genachowski worked closely with its founder, Barry Diller, on acquisitions, operations and strategy.
"He was intimately involved not only in the deals themselves, but also in the strategy at IAC," said Jonathan F. Miller, a former senior executive at IAC who later was the chief executive of AOL and an executive at News Corp.