The lobby of Manhattan’s Crosby Street Hotel, with its industrial chic and just-so designer furniture, is very 2017. Alan Patricof, with his loose-fitting suits and mop of gray hair, is very 1967. But on a cloudy recent morning, as the high-ceilinged room buzzes with bankers on the hunt for media deals at a conference, Patricof fits right in.
As he wends his way through the hotel restaurant, the 82-year-old exchanges warm hellos and swaps media gossip with well-heeled movers and shakers. People who don’t know him notice him; people who do treat him like The Man. And after he joins me at a small table and orders tea, Patricof drops a hint about just how long he’s enjoyed that status. “New York magazine is celebrating its 50th anniversary next week,” he points out. “I’ll be one of two people attending who was there when it opened.”
Patricof’s investment in New York, which helped turn a small-circulation pub into one of the most important media voices in art and politics, was one of his very first, and it showed the acumen that has made him a legend in venture capital circles. Since then he’s helped build hundreds of companies, including the likes of Apple (AAPL, -0.46%) and AOL—as one of the country’s first VCs and then as cofounder of Apax Partners, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms.
In 2006, at age 71, he sought something both new and familiar, collaborating with a younger generation of VCs as cofounder of a new firm, Greycroft Partners. After nearly 12 years there, studded with successful investments in startups like payment platform Venmo, entertainment firm Maker Studios, and men’s styling service Trunk Club, the patriarch shows few signs of slowing down. He’s first into the office every morning, and he recently made his first bet on a Bitcoin company. As our interview wraps up, he’s in a rush to rejoin the confab in the lobby to parlay with Cheddar, a fast-rising web TV service. “Alan in his eighties is younger than everyone I know,” says Mike Lazerow, founder of Buddy Media, another of Greycroft’s successful exits.