peHUB First Read

Cofee* Need venture capital for your iPad-related startup? There’s an AppFund for that.

* A private equity firm is majority owner of the Connecticut power plant that exploded yesterday, killing five workers.

* The SEC is rethinking its proposed ban on PE placement agents. As it should. I’m all for rooting out corruption in PE fundraising — hell, I’ve written about little else for the past year — but the SEC’s original language is the regulatory equivalent of using an anvil to swat a fly.

* Morning Call: U.S. futures point higher, London rises early, European shares fall on banks, the Nikkei hits 2-month closing low and both China and Hong Kong shares keep slipping.

* Q&A with Blackstone Group’s Tony James

* Economists, crises & cartoon (h/t Kedrosky)

* James Surowiecki: The perils of economic populism

* New white paper from BCG on how PE firms add operational value, and where LPs believe they still fall short.

* Tweet of the Day: @moorehn Undercover Boss themes: Fairy Godexecutive improves image of high-level executive and common man at expense of middle-management.

* New blog: Trends in Branding

* The Deal began cutting back on its blog activity a few months back, and now has put virtually everything behind the firewall.

* Alastair wrote last week about how VC-backed HomeAway had paid up for a Super Bowl ad. (“Complimentar-e”). Here it is: