The granddaddy of private equity and a legendary media and technology investor, Patricof is currently the chairman of Apax Partners and the founder of Greycroft LLC.
The son of working-class Russian immigrants, Patricof was raised on the Upper West Side and attended Ohio State and Columbia Business School before cutting his teeth at Samuel Gottesman's pulp and paper conglomerate. In 1969, he launched a firm of his own with $2.5 million in capital and spent the 1970s as one of the more prominent media investors in town, funding Scientific American and publisher E.F. Dutton as well providing the original financing for Clay Felker to start up New York magazine. Patricof negotiated New York's subsequent acquisition of the Village Voice before promptly selling the lot to Rupert Murdoch, much to Felker's dismay.
He also turned his attention to technology, earning mammoth returns from investments in Apple (a $315,000 investment that delivered a 5,000 percent return) and, later, AOL, Cadence Systems, and Cellular Communications, Inc. It was also during the 1980s that Patricof expanded his operation abroad, affiliating Patricof & Co. with the British buyout firm headed by Sir Ronald Cohen, Apax Partners. The partnership, which by 2002 had merged into one global company, has since become one of the industry's most formidable players in the world of private equity and leveraged buyouts.
Patricof stepped back from day-to-day activities at Apax in 2002 when, he says, the firm's clients began pushing for bigger deals and returns. (One such mammoth investment: In 2006, Apax acquired Tommy Hilfiger for $1.6 billion.) His new venture, Greycroft Partners LP, which he launched in 2006, is a completely different beast. Named after his East Hampton estate, the $50 million fund is open only to individual investors-about 100 friends have put in money-and works specifically on venture capital-style investment ideas in the digital media industry. (His three partners include Dana Settle, Drew Lipsher, and Ian Sigalow.) Portfolio companies include Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer's HuffingtonPost.com, Rafat Ali's PaidContent.org, sports social networking site Takkle, and the peer-to-peer player Vuze.
Patricof has three sons with his second wife, Susan: Mark, who used to work at the Hollywood agency CAA and now runs an online site called adTV with @radical.media with Jon Kamen; Jon Patricof, who works with his uncle and aunt at Tribeca Enterprises; and Jamie, a former film producer who is now the CEO of TheDailyReel.com. The Patricof's have an apartment at 830 Park but spend much of their time at their East Hampton estate, where they met Bill and Hilary Clinton. Patricof and his wife have been major Democratic donors and avid supporters of the Clintons.