Mike Novogratz is the president of Fortress Investment Group, the first US-based private equity/hedge fund to sell shares to the public.
A former wrestler at Princeton and helicopter pilot in the New Jersey National Guard, Novogratz started off his career at Goldman Sachs, where he ran the fixed income group in Asia, returning to the New York office when he earned partnership status in 1998. After 12 years at Goldman, including a brief stint as chief of Goldman Sachs Latin America, Novogratz bolted for the greener pastures of hedge fund land, joining Wesley Edens, Peter Briger, Robert Kauffman and Randall Nardone at Fortress, the firm they'd founded a couple of years before.
In 2006, the five men stunned Wall Street when they announced plans to go public. Following a $890 million investment by the Japanese firm Nomura, Fortress raked in some $600 million for 8% of the company in a February 2007 IPO, valuing the stake held by Fortress's principals at $9.7 billion. It was a groundbreaking moment for the industry, and helped set off the wave of hedge fund and private equity firms that followed suit (or hoped to), including Steve Schwarzman and Pete Peterson's Blackstone Group and Dan Och's Och-Ziff Capital Management. These days Fortress has some $43 billion in assets under management, spread across several private equity and hedge funds. (Novogratz himself oversees the firm's hedge fund operations.) Unfortunately, the meltdown in the credit markets has pummeled Fortress's returns as well as its stock price.
Forbes estimates Novogratz's net worth at $1.5 billion.
Novogratz serves as chairman of the Beat the Streets program, which funds middle and high school wrestling teams. He's on the board of School for Strings, which supports music education in public schools, and Acumen Fund, an anti-poverty group founded by his sister, Jacqueline Novogratz. He's also on the board of trustees of the NYU Medical Center, along with fellow Wall Street heavy-hitters Larry Fink, Gary Cohn, Jamie Dimon and Bob Pittman, among others.
Novogratz is a major Democratic contributor. He and his wife have donated more than $100,000 to the party since 2004.
Novogratz and his wife, Dora Caceres, have four kids. In 2005, the family picked up Robert De Niro's former Hudson Street loft for $12.25 million and expanded the 4,600-square-foot space a year later when they purchased the apartment directly below for $5.3 million. The family spends weekends at a home in Amagansett they purchased for $2.3 million in 1998. If construction is ever completed, the Novogratzes will get to spend their vacations in the Dominican Republic: Novogratz is a member of Boykin Curry and Celerie Kemble's forthcoming "creative utopia," along with Moby, Charlie Rose, and Richard Meier and Fareed Zakaria.