Is the pioneering venture capitalist Alan Patricof trying to be the grand old man of new media? As the chairman of Greycroft Partners--the small ($75 million) venture capital firm he started in 2005 after leaving Apax, the $30 billion behemoth he co-founded nearly four decades ago--the 73-year-old Patricof is again on the cutting edge.
Patricof, who had the insight or good luck to get in on the ground floor of Apple and America Online, today presides over an investment portfolio of such digital startups and young companies as PaidContent (paidcontent.org), an information and media enterprise; Takkle (takkle.com), the first online social network for sports fans; and the Huffington Post, the influential news site started by the power pundit Arianna Huffington. Some of these companies' services and products are so technical that Patricof acknowledges even he doesn't fully understand all of them. But profits have already begun to roll in: Greycroft's modest investment--between $500,000 and $3 million--in Pump Audio paid off with a 700 percent return in June, when the digital-music-licensing company was sold to Getty Images for $42 million.