Warren Hellman

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Warren Hellman
Warren Hellman by Ron Baker.JPG
Warren Hellman at Old Settler's Music Festival in Driftwood, TX (2010).
Born Frederick Warren Hellman
(1934-07-25)July 25, 1934
New York City
Died December 18, 2011(2011-12-18) (aged 77)
San Francisco, California
Residence San Francisco, California
Ethnicity Jewish
Citizenship United States
Education University of California, Berkeley (BA, 1955)
Harvard Business School (MBA, 1959)
Occupation Private equity, Investment banking (prior)
Employer Hellman & Friedman
Known for Founder of Hellman & Friedman, Hellman, Ferri Investment Associates (today Matrix Partners)
Spouse(s) Patricia Christina Sander
Children Marco Hellman
Frances Hellman
Judith Hellman
Patricia Hellman Gibbs
Parent(s) Ruth Koshland
Marco Hellman

F. Warren Hellman (July 25, 1934 – December 18, 2011) was an American private equity investor and co-founder of Hellman & Friedman, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.[1] Hellman also co-founded Hellman, Ferri Investment Associates, today known as Matrix Partners. He started and funded the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. Hellman died on December 18, 2011 of complications from his treatment for leukemia.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Hellman was born to a Jewish family[3][4] in New York and spent his early childhood in Manhattan,[5] the son of Ruth (née Koshland)[6] and Marco "Mick" Hellman.[5] During World War II, his family moved to Vacaville, California where his father served as a Major in the Army and his mother worked as a Women Airforce Service Pilot, flying military planes from aircraft factories to bases.[5] After the war, they moved to San Francisco where he graduated from Lowell High School. In 1955, he graduated from University of California, Berkeley and in 1959, he graduated with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.[5]


After school, he worked in investment banking at Lehman Brothers becoming a partner at age 26, the youngest in the firm's history.[6] In 1973, he was named president and head of investment banking.[6] and also head of the Investment Banking Division and Chairman of Lehman Corporation. In 1977, he moved to Boston and co-founded with Paul J. Ferri a venture capital firm, Hellman, Ferri Investment Associates (later renamed Matrix Partners), an early-stage investor in SanDisk and Apple.[5] In 1984, he moved back to San Francisco and co-founded the buyout firm, Hellman & Friedman with Tully Friedman where he served as chairman of the firm as well as a member of the Firm's Investment and Compensation Committees.

Hellman & Friedman's strategy was to buy companies heavy on intellectual acumen (typically financial services or software companies) and light on physical assets (such as manufacturers) with strong cash flows that need operational improvements.[5] In 1995, the firm purchased Levi Strauss & Co. from 250 family shareholders and consolidated it among four men including Hellman and then-CEO Robert D. Haas.[5] The company reduced its debt and improved its earnings.

Family history[edit]

Though his fortune was largely self-made, Hellman was the great-grandson of Isaias W. Hellman, a prominent early California banker (President of Wells Fargo Bank), philanthropist, and a founding father of the University of Southern California.[7] Isaias Hellman's sister-in-law was married to Mayer Lehman, one of the founders of Lehman Brothers. Warren Hellman's mother, the former Ruth Koshland, is the granddaughter of Jesse Koshland, a pioneer wool merchant of San Francisco (a nephew of Jesse Koshland, Daniel E. Koshland, Sr., served as the CEO of Levi Strauss & Co).

The Hellman family is not connected to the Hellmann’s mayonnaise company.[8]

Hellman was married to Patricia Christina "Chris" Sander;[4] they had four children: Marco "Mick" Hellman; Frances Hellman; Judith Hellman; and Patricia Hellman Gibbs. His daughter, Frances Hellman, is the Dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at UC Berkeley.[9] His funeral was held at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.[10]

Other affiliations[edit]

Hellman was the primary sponsor and provided funding for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.[11][12][13] In 2011, Speedway Meadow was renamed Hellman Hollow to honor his history of philanthropy and civic involvement in San Francisco.[14]

Hellman was a donor and supporter of Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), a nonprofit organization that helps people transform their lives through work.

Hellman was a Director of D.N.& E. Walter & Co. and Sugar Bowl Corporation. He was also a member of the advisory board of the Walter A. Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. In 2005, Hellman was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hellman was the Chairman of the Board of The Bay Citizen, a non-profit news organization focusing on the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Citizen was founded with a $5 million contribution from the Hellman Family Foundation.[15]

Hellman was the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Mills College from 1982-1992, and as a result of protests reversed the college's decision to go co-ed in 1990.[16]

He formerly served as a Director of numerous portfolio companies, including Eller Media Company, Nasdaq Stock Market and Young & Rubicam.

Hellman served in the U.S. Army from 1955 through 1957.

Warren Hellman was honored by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in December 2011. Speedway Meadow, the location of his festival Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, has been officially renamed "Hellman Hollow".


  1. ^ Hellman & Friedman Raises $8.8 Billion Buyout Fund. Bloomberg, October 1, 2009
  2. ^ [1]. Bay Citizen, December 18, 2011
  3. ^ Contemporary Jewish Museum: "Hardly Strictly Warren Hellman - Sep 18, 2014–Ongoing retrieved march 29, 2015
  4. ^ a b Jewish Weekly: "Warren Hellman: S.F., Jewish community lose an icon" by Dan Pine December 22, 2011
  5. ^ a b c d e f g San Francisco Chronicle: "Warren Hellman, financier and philanthropist, dies at 77 - WARREN HELLMAN 1934-2011 'Renaissance man' was force in local politics, culture" By David R. Baker December 19, 2011
  6. ^ a b c Bay Citizen: "The Billionaire Who Loved Bluegrass - Financier and philanthropist spread around his millions so "good things will grow" by Jane Ganahl December 18, 2011
  7. ^ Amster, Joseph. "Finding fulfillment :Warren Hellman joins his daughter for a special double b’nai mitzvah". Jweekly.com. Retrieved 27 August 2009. ,
  8. ^ Peter Lattman (December 19, 2011). "Warren Hellman, 77, Investor Who Loved Bluegrass, Dies". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "Frances Hellman to head L&S Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences". Retrieved 11 June 2014. 
  10. ^ Fog City Journal: "A Fitting Tribute to Warren Hellman, “The Prince of Humanity” by Kat Anderson December 22, 2011
  11. ^ Warren Hellman strums those recession blues. San Francisco Business Times, February 22, 2008
  12. ^ Warren Hellman: A tough banjo to pluck. San Francisco Examiner, September 20, 2008
  13. ^ Made Money, Makes Music. Forbes, October 5, 2006
  14. ^ Gordon, Rachel. "Warren Hellman honored with Golden Gate Park meadow renaming | City Insider | an SFGate.com blog". Blog.sfgate.com. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  15. ^ "The Bay Citizen". The Bay Citizen. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  16. ^ Gordon, Larry (1990-05-19). "Mills College Scraps Plan to Admit Men". Los Angeles Times. 

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