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F. Warren Hellman (July 25, 1934 – December 18, 2011) was an American private equity investor and co-founder of Hellman & Friedman, a multibillion-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]

Warren Hellman
Warren Hellman by Ron Baker.JPG
Warren Hellman at Old Settler's Music Festival in Driftwood, TX (2010).
Frederick Warren Hellman

(1934-07-25)July 25, 1934
New York City
DiedDecember 18, 2011(2011-12-18) (aged 77)
San Francisco, California
ResidenceSan Francisco, California
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley (BA, 1955)
Harvard Business School (MBA, 1959)
OccupationPrivate equity, Investment banking (prior)
EmployerHellman & Friedman
Known forFounder of Hellman & Friedman, Hellman, Ferri Investment Associates (today Matrix Partners)
Spouse(s)Patricia Christina Sander
ChildrenMarco Hellman
Frances Hellman
Judith Hellman
Patricia Hellman Gibbs
Parent(s)Ruth Koshland
Marco Hellman
FamilyIsaias W. Hellman (great-grandfather)

Early life and educationEdit

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] His great-grandfather was Isaias W. Hellman.[7] 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 28, the youngest in the firm's history.[8][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 historyEdit

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.[9] 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, was the granddaughter of Jesse Koshland, and great grand-daughter of Simon Koshland, pioneer wool merchants in 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.[10]

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.[11] His funeral was held at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.[12]

Other affiliationsEdit

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

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.[13]

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 primary sponsor and provided funding for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.[14][15][16] In 2011, Speedway Meadow was renamed Hellman Hollow to honor his history of philanthropy and civic involvement in San Francisco.[17]

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

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.[18]

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

Hellman won the national championship in Ride and Tie racing (in his age category) five times.[10]


  1. ^ Hellman & Friedman Raises $8.8 Billion Buyout Fund. Bloomberg, October 1, 2009
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2013-08-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). 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 Baker, David R. (December 19, 2011). "Warren Hellman, financier and philanthropist, dies at 77 - Warren Hellman 1934-2011 'Renaissance man' was force in local politics, culture". San Francisco Chronicle.
  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. ^ Hellman & Friedman: "F. Warren Hellman, Beloved Founder, Passes Away at 77" December 18, 2011
  8. ^ "A Casual Approach to Success - Alumni - Harvard Business School". Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  9. ^ Amster, Joseph. "Finding fulfillment :Warren Hellman joins his daughter for a special double b'nai mitzvah". Retrieved 27 August 2009.,
  10. ^ a b Peter Lattman (December 19, 2011). "Warren Hellman, 77, Investor Who Loved Bluegrass, Dies". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Frances Hellman to head L&S Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences". Retrieved 11 June 2014.
  12. ^ Fog City Journal: "A Fitting Tribute to Warren Hellman, “The Prince of Humanity” by Kat Anderson December 22, 2011
  13. ^ Gordon, Larry (1990-05-19). "Mills College Scraps Plan to Admit Men". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ Warren Hellman strums those recession blues. San Francisco Business Times, February 22, 2008
  15. ^ Warren Hellman: A tough banjo to pluck. San Francisco Examiner, September 20, 2008
  16. ^ Made Money, Makes Music. Forbes, October 5, 2006
  17. ^ Gordon, Rachel. "Warren Hellman honored with Golden Gate Park meadow renaming | City Insider | an blog". Retrieved 2011-12-19.
  18. ^ "The Bay Citizen". The Bay Citizen. Retrieved 2011-12-19.

External linksEdit