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Bain Capital Founder Bill Bain Has Died

He helped redefine the consulting industry before founding private equity firm Bain Capital in 1984.

  • By Alicia McElhaney

William “Bill” Bain Jr., the founder of consultant Bain & Co. and private equity firm Bain Capital, has died at age 80.

He died January 16 surrounded by family at his home in Naples, Florida, according to an obituary published by the Chapman, Cole & Gleason funeral home. Bain is survived by his wife, Ann Dean Bain, and his four children. 

“Bill’s enduring influence is as vibrant today as when he and a few colleagues first took the leap to start Bain & Company 45 years ago,” a spokesperson for Bain & Co. said in an emailed statement. “His focus on client results over just good recommendations was revolutionary at the time. His vision of a more productive client relationship was profound, and he understood deeply the power of a community of extraordinary teams.”

The spokesperson said that Bain worked to “redefine the consulting industry from selling hours of advice to selling profits at a discount,” seeking out long-term relationships with his clients while presenting them with “data-led perspectives on their most critical issues.”

Bain was born on January 30, 1937 in Johnson City, Tennessee, according to the obituary. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1959 with a degree in history and later rose through the university’s ranks to become the school’s director of development. In his professional role at Vanderbilt, Bain connected with Bruce Henderson, head of the Boston Consulting Group, and in 1967 moved to Boston to work for the firm, according to the obituary.

After about six years with Boston Consulting, Bain set out on his own, founding Bain & Co., a corporate strategy consulting firm, in 1973. He then founded Bain Capital in 1984.

Today, Bain Capital manages more than $85 billion in assets and has been expanding beyond its traditional private equity roots. In December, the Boston-based firm said it was entering the real estate investment business by lifting out the real estate team from Harvard Management Co., the endowment for Harvard University.

[II Deep Dive: Harvard Endowment’s Real Estate Team Moves to Bain Capital]

“Bill’s support, especially during Bain Capital’s early years, was crucial to the successful launch and growth of our firm,” Bain Capital said in a statement Thursday. “We will forever appreciate how generous he was with his time as a mentor.”

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