Off-duty: Hunter Point’s Avi Kalichstein on tickling the ivories, fresh guacamole and listening to the waves crash

Kalichstein opted for a career in private equity because it offers “a never-ending bounty of opportunity to learn and grow.”

Avi Kalichstein, Hunter Point Capital

Buyouts’ Off-duty provides a snapshot of top investors, including a few details about what they do when not chasing deals.

Had he not become a GP, Avi Kalichstein, co-founder and CEO of Hunter Point Capital, may have pursued a musical career – just like his pianist father Joseph Kalichstein, a widely-acclaimed orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician.

Classical music was “bred into my soul,” Kalichstein says. He continues to play piano and guitar as “it’s important to have creative outlets.”

Kalichstein, whose first job was as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, opted for a career in private equity because it offers “a never-ending bounty of opportunity to learn and grow.” Between 2004 and 2011, he was a managing director at JC Flowers & Co, and later founded Solel Investment Group and was an executive at Easterly Capital.

In 2020, he and Bennett Goodman launched Hunter Point, a GP stakes investor across global alternative assets, including private equity, private credit, real estate and infrastructure. The firm has been quite active of late, announcing three new investments – Coller Capital, Inflexion and L Catterton – since January.

Kalichstein lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Where is your hometown?                                                                                           

I was born and raised in New Jersey but have lived on three continents and feel at home in various places around the world.

If you weren’t in PE, what job would you like to have?

I would be a musician.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

In addition to playing music, I like to exercise – running, cycling, mountain biking, tennis and skiing. And I love to spend time with my wife and children.

What book are you reading right now?

I usually have a number of books that I read concurrently (and slowly).

I’m currently reading The Overstory, a novel by Richard Powers that weaves together a number of people’s distinct stories. The stories are all connected by some relationship to trees. It’s surprisingly compelling and interesting. I’ve just started a journey through A Theory of Justice, a seminal book by philosopher John Rawls. For pleasure and on airplanes, I’m reading The Lightning Rod, a mystery by Brad Meltzer. It is a gripping page-turner. And in the background, I’m always re-reading Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin.

What is your favorite song, album, performer or music genre?

I love to listen to classical music. My father, Joseph Kalichstein, who toured all over the world as a concert pianist, is my favorite performer.

What is your favorite meal, recipe, cocktail or bottle of wine?

Depends on the environment and the people. If I’m with my close friends, I’m happy to share some fresh guacamole and a good margarita. With my family, I might enjoy pizza and sparkling water at Lucali in Brooklyn. Or it could be sipping a great white burgundy with my business partner on a summer evening, working on our strategic plan.

What is your favorite place for a vacation, sanctuary or a place to explore? 

Sitting on a quiet beach after everyone else has left at the end of the day, listening to the waves crash. That’s probably where I do my deepest thinking.

Who in your career do you regard as a mentor?

I have been very lucky to have had a host of amazing mentors over the span of my career. My father was my longest-serving mentor. He was extraordinarily talented and accomplished yet didn’t have a shred of ego.

More recently, Bennett Goodman (co-founder and executive chairman of Hunter Point Capital) has been a fantastic mentor. Not unlike my father, he is incredibly wise and while he might be the smartest person in the room, he would never let anyone know it.

Professionally, what was your toughest moment?

The two weeks following September 15, 2008. I thought the ground was falling out from underneath us. Nothing before or since has compared to that sense of panic in my professional life.

What was your most rewarding moment?

Building Hunter Point Capital is extremely rewarding. We’re only in our second full year of operations, but our team is accomplishing so much.

Watching our group thrive and grow is immensely fulfilling. When we first started Hunter Point, for example, it was difficult to recruit people. Now that we have announced seven investments, including stakes in L Catterton and Coller Capital, and built momentum with the announcement of our GP Financing Solutions business, top-quality recruits are seeking us out. We are proud to have created such a terrific place to work and hope to make it even better.

What PE buzz words or jargon do you hate most?

For me, two of the most overused words in private equity are “strategic” and “partner.” Sometimes they are used together. If one company sells something to another, that doesn’t make them partners (the former is a vendor to the latter, which is a customer). That relationship is frequently not a strategic one, although it could be important for both.

What advice would you give a young person interested in a PE career?

Invest heavily in your technical and analytical skills. I was trained in the financial institutions group at Goldman Sachs. While it was incredibly rigorous and demanding, I am forever grateful for the opportunity and the foundation that it laid for my career.

What word or phrase best describes you?

Relentlessly and humbly striving to improve.