CHICAGO – Stan Golder, recognized by friends and colleagues as one of the founders of the modern private equity industry, in early January died at age 70 from a recently discovered brain tumor.
Golder built the private equity program at First Chicago Corp. in the 1970s, where he backed Federal Express before forming what eventually became Golder, Thoma, Cressey, Rauner Inc. in 1980. The firm began making all kinds of private equity investments – backing 60 companies with its first $60 million, recalled friend and former colleague Bruce Rauner. By the mid-1980s, however, the firm narrowed its focus to established, fragmented industries, using debt and equity in consolidation plays.
“They really developed the whole concept of platform investing on the buyouts side,” said Katie Cattanach, a managing principal at Sovereign Financial Services Inc. and longtime friend of Golder’s.
“He really was a giant in the industry, because he was there at the beginning and had just incredible integrity in how he dealt with portfolio companies, with his peers and associates, everyone,” she added.
Former colleague Carl Thoma made similar remarks. He noted that Golder liked to have a lot of faith in people, letting them make a first mistake. He was not, however, fond of repeat errors, Thoma added.
Golder is survived by his wife Joan, sons David and Ken and daughter Nancy.
Golder had chaired both the National Venture Capital Association and the National Association of Small Business Investment Companies and he was active in the 1970s in efforts to change federal laws allowing pensions to invest in private equity, Rauner said.
Golder, Thoma, Cressey, Rauner split into two firms about two years ago, Thoma, Cressey Equity Partners and GTCR Golder, Rauner. Stan Golder was largely retired by the time of the split, but served as a special limited partner and advisory board member to the successor firm bearing his name, Rauner said.
Abbott Capital Management Managing Director Ray Held said one of Golder’s strengths was his ability to judge people, a skill he used both in picking colleagues for his own firm and in choosing managers to back with his private equity funds. Held called Golder “one of the most pre-eminent people in modern-day private equity.”
Both graduates of the University of Illinois, Golder and his wife had endowed a chair in corporate finance at the school.
“He was a very philanthropic person,” Rauner said, supporting a variety of causes from senior centers to religious groups to education. Held also said Golder had served on the board of Highland Park Hospital in suburban Chicago.