One of the city's preeminent media investors, Rattner is founder and managing principal of private equity firm the Quadrangle Group as well as a major Democratic fundraiser.
The son of a Long Island paint manufacturer, Rattner attended Brown and started his career at the New York Times. As assistant to legendary editor James Reston, Rattner emerged as one of the Times' bright young star reporters, ascending through the ranks in short order, thanks in no small part to his longstanding friendship with Arthur Sulzberger Jr. But after covering the energy market and serving as a reporter in the Times' Washington bureau (where he worked alongside—and dated—Judith Miller), Rattner decided to bail out of journalism in the early '80s. In what was a surprising move at the time, he gave up the most coveted gig in journalism to be an investment banker.
Rattner spent a few years at Lehman Bros, then moved to Morgan Stanley, where he founded the communications group and established himself as a consummate dealmaker. In 1989, he decamped to the M&A powerhouse Lazard Freres, eventually becoming deputy CEO under Michel David-Weill. The tail-end of Rattner's tenure at Lazard, however, was marked by acrimony: After he clashed with fellow partner Felix Rohatyn—and after he attempted to reorganize the structure of the firm to bolster his own power—David-Weill ousted him in 2000. Later that year, with $1 billion in capital, Rattner founded the Quadrangle Group.
The timing of Rattner's tech and media-centric fund wasn't very auspicious. Launched just before the tech crash, Quadrangle was hit hard by the economic downturn of 2001. But he managed to keep the faith and the investments Quadrangle made during the dip earned a generous return when the economy bounced back with a vengeance. Today Quadrangle manages $6 billion in public and private equity and distressed debt; investments over the years have included MGM, Cablevision, and the theater chain Cinemark. Recently, Quadrangle paid $245 million to acquire Dennis Publishing, owner of the lad mags Maxim and Stuff, and appointed Kent Brownridge, Jann Wenner's former right hand man, as the company's CEO. Rattner's right-hand man at Quadrangle is Peter Ezersky. Rattner's most famous investor? That would be Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who announced in early 2008 that he planned to place part of his multi-billion fortune in Rattner's hands.
The reserved, soft-spoken Rattner is married to Maureen White, Democratic fundraiser extraordinaire and a former finance chair of the DNC. The couple has four children: Rebecca, Daniel, David and Izzy. They live at 998 Fifth Avenue, the same building that is home to mega-real estate developer Henry Elghanayan. (George Soros is a former resident of the building.) They have a weekend home in North Salem, just down the road from the horse farm that Michael Bloomberg purchased for his ex-wife, Susan Brown, and their daughters.
Given his wife's ties, it's no surprise Rattner is a big-time Democratic donor and has contributed generously to Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore in the past. (In fact, it's widely believed that Rattner would have earned a position in Gore's cabinet if he'd prevailed in 2000.) Naturally, Rattner has also been a major donor to Michael Bloomberg. In 2005, he headed a group called Democrats for Bloomberg.