The growth of private equity internationally has been dramatic, to the point that the asset class has been both lauded as the savior and vilified as the cause of our current economic malaise. Over the past two decades, private equity- ranging from venture capital to buy- outs and even to certain activities by absolute return funds (hedge funds) -has come to play an increasingly important role in shaping our economy. Their promise of "above market" returns has attracted investments from pension funds upon which millions of our elders rely and universities which educate future contributors to society. Yet private equity organizations often operate in mysterious ways, with little public visibility. This course seeks to understand how these organizations work, why they take the forms that they do, and where crucial problems-and opportunities for innovation-exist. We examine the strategies and incentives of the various players and how they maneuver through the business cycle. Cases are recent and class speakers are common so the current private equity environment and the changing landscape are features of every class.