Profile of a highly connected, early rising, early stage investor


Alan Patricof said that there is only one acceptable reason for missing out on a funding round for a really great startup: It costs too much.

Otherwise, it’s the job of him and his colleagues at Greycroft Partners to convince them to take the money.

Patricof, 79, has been at this a long time and can come up with pretty forceful arguments for doing so. Perhaps the most compelling is connections. He and his partners, Patricof said, can get founders a meeting with pretty much any C-level executive in the media industry – and most in the tech business as well. It’s one of the side perks of a 40-plus year career with early investments in Apple, AOL and Office Depot, among others.

And it’s helped secure Greycroft some high-profile portfolio companies, including HuffintonPost, Buddy Media and recently-acquired social media influence measurer Klout.

While Patricof has a long history of backing media entrepreneurs, it’s not the only area in which he brings some investment clout. The New York City native is best known as a founder of Apax Partners, today one of the world’s largest private equity firms, with more than $40 billion under management.

Patricof founded a predecessor company to Apax, called Patricof & Co, an investment firm that specializes in technology and media. Before that, he developed a taste for the publishing industry, making a founding investment in the late 1960s in New York Magazine.

Politics is another area in which Patricof is a formidably connected guy. As Apax scaled up in the 1990s, along with Patricof’s own net worth, he took an active role in Democratic Party fundraising, where he has shown some talent for picking winners. He started out as a fundraiser for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns, and later took an active role in fundraising for Hilary Clinton.

Most recently, Patricof hosted an even more famous guest – President Obama – for a March event at his New York home, to raise money for the Democratic National Committee. Guests paid a reported $32,400 per plate for the privilege of attending such an intimate event with the president.

As for whether Patricof’s role in the fundraiser foreshadows a return to campaign trail for his favored candidate, Hillary Clinton, the host wasn’t tipping his hand. He said he does not know if she will run in 2016, although he hopes that she will.

In the interim, the early-rising, early-stage investor is finding other ways to occupy his time. Most days, he said, he’s still the first person at Greycroft’s downtown office, often arriving before 7 am.

That said, while he may be first to arrive, Patricof concedes he’s not necessarily the last to leave the office. He has other pressing appointments, not always of the presidential variety.

Rather, as a grandfather of seven, these take the more familiar form of soccer games, dance recitals and family dinners.

At the Future of Fintech conference in New York on March 26, Alan Patricof will be presented with VCJ’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.

This story first appeared in Reuters Venture Capital Journal. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe to VCJ, please email Greg.Winterton@ThomsonReuters.com.

Photo: Alan Patricof (R), founder of Greycroft Partners, accepts a lifetime achievement award from Lawrence Aragon, digital editor of the Reuters Deals Group. Photographed by Rob Paul for Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.