Our Founder

Warren Hellman: One of the good guys

Warren Hellman was a devoted family man, highly successful businessman, active philanthropist, dedicated musician, arts patron, endurance athlete and all-around good guy. Born in New York City in 1934, he grew up in the Bay Area, graduating from the University of California at Berkeley. After serving in the U.S. Army and attending Harvard Business School, Warren began his finance career at Lehman Brothers, becoming the youngest partner in the firm’s history at age 26 and subsequently serving as President. After a distinguished career on Wall Street, Warren moved back west and co-founded Hellman & Friedman, building it into one of the industry’s leading private equity firms.

Warren deeply believed in the power of people to accomplish incredible things and used his success to improve and enrich the lives of countless people. Throughout his career, Warren helped found or seed many successful businesses including Matrix Partners, Jordan Management Company, Farallon Capital Management and Hall Capital Partners.

Within the community, Warren and his family were generous supporters of dozens of organizations and causes in the arts, public education, civic life, and public health, including creating and running the San Francisco Free Clinic. Later in life, Warren became an accomplished 5-string banjo player and found great joy in sharing the love of music with others. In true form, he made something larger of this avocation to benefit others by founding the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, an annual three-day, free music festival that draws hundreds of thousands of people together from around the Bay Area.

An accomplished endurance athlete, Warren regularly completed 100-mile runs, horseback rides and combinations of the two. He also was an avid skier and national caliber master ski racer and served as president of the U.S. Ski Team in the late 1970s, and is credited with helping revitalize the Sugar Bowl ski resort in the California Sierras.

In short, Warren Hellman embodied the ideal of living life to the fullest. He had an active mind and body, and a huge heart. We are lucky to call him our founder. Read more about Warren.

Warren Hellman

SFChronicle/SFGate/Liz Hafalia

Warren Hellman

Robert Holmgren

Warren Hellman

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Lessons from Warren

Warren Hellman was a compelling and dynamic leader whose values continue to inspire the way we do business today.

  • Believe in people. They are everything.
  • Do the right thing even when nobody is looking.
  • It’s easy to be a good partner in good times. Be a good partner in bad times.
  • Have skin in the game and always align interests. Nothing motivates people more than working toward the same goal and sharing in the outcome.
  • Stay curious.
  • The race goes to those who persevere.