A one-time chairman of Goldman Sachs, Friedman now serves as chairman of the private equity firm Stone Point Capital. He remains on the board of Goldman.
Cornell and Columbia Law School graduate Friedman spent more than two decades at Goldman Sachs, joining the firm in 1966 and making partner in 1973. He was responsible for building up the firm's mergers and acquisitions business in the 1970s and '80s, and during the takeover boom of the 80's, it was Friedman who devised the strategy of working with the companies under siege by hostile acquirers, rather than the buyers. After rising to co-chairman alongside Robert Rubin (and then sole chairman after Rubin left to join the Clinton Administration), Friedman retired with the explanation that he was exhausted. After a short stint as a senior principal of Marsh & McLennan, he entered public service, serving as U.S. Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and director of the National Economic Council from 2002 to 2004. He's currently chairman of Stone Point Capital, an $8 billion private equity fund, where he invests in companies in the insurance and financial services industry, alongside fellow Goldman alum Charles Davis.
Friedman is chairman emeritus of Columbia University and chairman emeritus of the executive committee of the Brookings Institute. He's also currently on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering along with Richard Beattie, Stanley Druckenmiller, Bruce Ratner, Mort Zuckerman, David Koch, and Marie-Josee Kravis.
Friedman's wife, Barbara Benioff Friedman, is chair of the board of governors at Hebrew Union College. They live on Fifth Avenue and have three kids, including two daughters, Susan ("Suzy") and Caroline. Their son, David Benioff (he goes by his mother's maiden name), is the author of the 25th Hour, which was turned into a film by Spike Lee, and the screenwriter of Troy and Stay. (Friedman was an extra in the 25th Hour.) His daughter-in-law—David's wife—is actress Amanda Peet.
Friedman is in the Cornell Hall of Fame for his wrestling prowess—he was Eastern champion in 1959. (He's since financed the construction of a world-class wrestling center at his alma mater.) Hank Paulson, a Friedman protégé who went on to become chairman of Goldman himself before becoming Secretary of the Treasury, once challenged his mentor to a wrestling match. Friedman pinned the taller and heavier Paulson.