David Bauman, Tailwind Capital’s Curious Co-Founder, Dies at 56

  • After disease made him quit, he turned to reading classics
  • Bauman started private equity firm with friend from Harvard

David Bauman, a co-founder at private equity firm Tailwind Capital Partners whose drive and curiosity spurred him to read 232 classics and other books in two years after disease forced him to stop working, has died. He was 56.

He died Wednesday at his home in Scarsdale, New York, his wife, Amy Cohen Bauman, said in a telephone interview. The cause was neurosarcoidosis, a neurological disorder that first struck in 2012.

David Bauman.

David Bauman.

Source: Tailwind Capital Partners

Bauman was a partner, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at New York-based Tailwind. He helped start the firm in 2003 after managing partner Larry Sorrel, a friend from Harvard Business School, asked him to join the project. Since then, the company has managed funds with $2 billion of committed equity capital invested in 33 portfolio companies, according to its website

“David helped bring process and organization to our firm during our early years,” Sorrel said in a telephone interview. “He was a wonderful friend and a great business mind.”

Previously, Bauman worked as a turnaround manager on behalf of Texas Pacific Group at Zilog Inc., a Milpitas, California-based semiconductor maker. In the 1990s at American Express Co., he oversaw 250 people as a senior vice president and led development of the credit card company’s first online services, according to a 1997 profile in Crain’s New York Business. Bauman made the publication’s “40 under 40” list of high-achieving young executives.

“I’ve always wanted to solve problems and have a direct role in shaping a company,” Crain’s quoted him saying.

Health Crisis

The first sign of his failing health occurred in November 2012, according to his wife. He lost his hearing, entered a hospital and had a seizure. A brain tumor was suspected. He continued to deteriorate over the following year while a specific diagnosis at first eluded physicians. In November 2013, he had to stop working and started reading, beginning with “The Myth of America’s Decline,” by Josef Joffe, according to a list he kept. 

Bauman moved on to “Milton: Complete Poems,” Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius. He read 16 works by Shakespeare, writings by philosopher John Locke and “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill, as well as contemporary books on politics, history and quantum physics.

“He was reading for the thinking, for the intellectual pursuit,” Amy Bauman said. “He was a curious self-directed learner.”

As his disease progressed and he slowly lost the ability to walk and speak and his vision became impaired, Bauman turned to audio books.

Physician’s Son

David Scott Bauman was born Oct. 2, 1959, in Huntington, New York, on Long Island, to Judah Bauman and the former Rhoda Wexelman, his wife said. His father was a gynecologist and obstetrician. He grew up in nearby Commack.

In 1981, Bauman graduated from Stanford University in California with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and a master’s degree in engineering-economic systems. He earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in Boston in 1985. He then joined Bain & Co., the Boston-based management consulting firm, as a manager and technology consultant in its San Francisco office. 

Bauman left for New York-based American Express in 1992, staying there seven years until leaving to found Investor Broadcast Network, a Philadelphia-based company that streamed conference calls on the web. In 2001, he moved to Zilog.

In addition to his wife, the former Amy Grace Cohen, who is a board member at the East Hartford, Connecticut-based Angel Investor Forum, Bauman’s survivors include their children Samuel, William and Rachel, and his mother, Rhoda Wexelman Bauman.