Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) is a New York-based company that offers professional education services. The firm connects its clients with independent contractor consultants with topical or industry expertise in a variety of fields (termed “Council Members”), as well as executive education, larger team training, and the placement of experts in long-term advisory, operational, and board roles. GLG has a network of over 800,000 freelance consultants
The firm was founded in 1998 and has been backed by private equity firms Silver Lake Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and SFW Capital Partners. GLG is headquartered in New York City, with offices in 22 cities in 12 countries.
GLG’s clients include corporations, hedge funds, private equity firms, family offices, professional service firms, and non-profit organizations. GLG experts include consultants, physicians, scientists, engineers, lawyers, senior current and former c-level executives, and former government members.
GLG was named a Global leader in the 2019 Expert Network Market map, having reached revenues of about $600m.
Gerson Lehrman Group was founded by Yale Law School graduates Mark Gerson and Thomas Lehrman in 1998. Alexander Saint-Amand, a former Bloomberg reporter, joined GLG shortly after, and served as CEO until 2018.
GLG, initially funded by friends and family, was formed as a publishing house to produce industry guidebooks for institutional investors. However, the founders discovered that their clients wanted to talk directly to experts in casual conversations, rather than reading formal written reports. Accordingly, in 1999, GLG abandoned its publishing business and began offering subscriptions to its network of experts. This business came to be called an expert network.
GLG’s first customers were investors, and most of their growth from 1999 to 2005 was within the investment community. In 2006, they began working with big strategy consultancies and with companies in life sciences, chemicals and industrials, and technology. By 2010, The Wall Street Journal had described GLG as “dominating the U.S. expert networking industry”.
In the design space, GLG is a pioneer of activity based working office design, which does away with seating assignments for workers.
In 2018, GLG named Paul Todd as its new CEO. Todd was previously the head of eBay’s EMEA business, in such post from 2015.
In 2006, GLG worked with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide new primary data and analysis relevant for any other recovery plans in the rebuilding of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. GLG has also done other philanthropy work with smaller charities.
GLG now operates a global Social Impact Fellowship, an initiative that provides learning resources and expertise to a select group of nonprofits and social enterprises, at no cost.
As the use of alternative research providers within the financial industry has grown, brokerages themselves have been partnering with firms like GLG. On September 10, 2008, the company announced a deal with Credit Suisse, whereby analysts from the financial services giant would be able to tap into GLG’s experts as part of their research process. About 300 Credit Suisse analysts became members of the GLG expert network. In 2009, Gerson Lehrman Group announced a partnership with Frost & Sullivan, making the company’s 800+ market researchers available to consult with GLG clients.
In July 2009, GLG announced that it has partnered with Amba Research, a leading financial services knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) firm that provides equity and credit research.
On July 8, 2010, GLG and Bloomberg announced a partnership that enables clients of the Bloomberg Professional platform to access the GLG expert network through the Bloomberg platform.
In October 2011, GLG partnered with and acquired a minority stake in Ushi, a leading China-based business social networking provider, and the largest competitor of LinkedIn in the region.
Notable expert members
- Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor, The New York Times
- Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont and former Democratic National Committee Chairman
- Pamela Thomas-Graham, former McKinsey partner and former CMO/CTO of Credit Suisse
- Keith Olin Hedman, Founder, SALECENTIX
- Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post
- Jon Huntsman Jr., Former Ambassador to China
- Jeff Kindler, former CEO, Pfizer
- David Plouffe, Campaign Manager of Barack Obama’s 2008 Campaign
- Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist
- Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award–winning screenwriter
- Robby Mook, former Hillary Clinton campaign manager
- Ken Mehlman, Head of Public Affairs at KKR and former Republican National Committee Chairman
- Michael G. Vickers, former Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
- Tom Wheeler, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
- Barry Habib, mortgage industry executive and lead producer of Rock of Ages
- Avik Roy, journalist and policy advisor
The expert network business model has drawn scrutiny for concerns relating to adherence to disclosure rules and insider trading within the investment industry. During 2005, for example, doctors who served as paid consultants to investment firms as a result of their role in an expert network generated a “fair share of controversy”. GLG was part of a lawsuit filed by Biovail in March 2006, in which Biovail claimed that its shares had been manipulated. In September 2006, GLG announced the creation of a proprietary system that helped identify and manage conflicts, leveraging its experience as a pioneer in its industry to craft risk-reducing rules for expert engagements.
In January 2007, it was reported that the company and Vista Research, then a Standard & Poor’s affiliate, were part of an inquiry by the New York State Attorney General’s office into the consulting practices of investment firm clients. As of December 2007, the Attorney General had taken no action, and the investigation appeared to be dormant.
GLG’s compliance program of over 50 individuals has been cited as a reason for SFW Capital’s $200 million investment in GLG.
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