The 10 Most Powerful Hedge Fund Managers This Year
Hedge funds may have
CEO, Pershing Square Capital Management
The 53-year-old activist can
Ackman’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in recent years
Stability of capital has allowed Ackman to come roaring back this year, outdoing his peers and the market with a 40 percent gain through May. This isn’t his first comeback. Ackman launched his first hedge fund, Gotham Partners, shortly after receiving his MBA from Harvard in 1992. Even though Gotham
Ackman, who is worth $1.1 billion, is also one of the most philanthropic hedge fund managers: He’s already given away about $500 million, most of it through his Pershing Square Foundation.
STEVEN A. COHEN
Founder, Point72 Asset Management and SAC Capital
Before his SAC Capital hedge fund got caught up in the insider trading dragnet of then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Cohen was the unofficial kingpin of the hedge fund world, known for mouthwatering double-digit returns and a massive art collection.
A native of Great Neck, N.Y., Cohen started trading options at Gruntal & Co. after graduating from Wharton in 1978. That inauspicious start eventually led him to launch SAC Capital in 1992. In 2013, SAC gained notoriety when it pled guilty to securities fraud, paid a record $1.8 billion fine and shut its doors. Cohen, now 63,
In 2018 regulators allowed Cohen to raise money from investors again, and they quickly forked over $5 billion for his new hedge fund, Point72 Asset Management. But coming back to the world of hedge funds in a different era, Cohen has failed to produce the blockbuster returns that made him famous.
Founder, Tiger Global Management
A descendent of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New York,
Tiger Global, whose venture capital arm is now bigger than its original hedge fund—together they have $28 billion—has become one of the most prominent and successful investors in technology. Coleman, who is worth about $3 billion,
Founder, Bridgewater Associates; author
Ray Dalio, 69, heads the world’s biggest hedge fund, with $150 billion in assets. But in recent years he has also become something of a philosopher, starting with his 2017 book Principles, which lays out his views on life and work.
More recently, Dalio has been speaking out about the problems of American capitalism, saying it needs urgent reform. Arguing that “the American dream
Dalio, who grew up in Queens as the son of a jazz musician father and
Dalio recently called out the underfunding of public schools, which he described as “economically stupid.” Shortly after publishing these views on LinkedIn, Dalio and his wife gave $100 million to strengthen the public education system in Connecticut, where they live.
Founder and CEO, Citadel
Griffin was considered a boy-wonder investor when he launched Citadel in 1990. That was just a year after he graduated from Harvard, where he famously started trading convertible bonds from his dorm room. By 2008, Citadel’s high leverage led it to lose half of its assets during the financial crisis, but the ensuing era of Fed-induced low interest rates allowed Citadel to recoup its losses and flourish. It is now one of the world’s largest hedge fund empires, with $30 billion under management, and Griffin’s Citadel Securities is also a leading market maker.
Now 50, Griffin made news this year for paying $238 million for a Manhattan skyscraper penthouse overlooking Central Park, the highest ever paid for a U.S. home.
Griffin, a Republican donor who is worth $11.6 billion, also said that “soaking the rich doesn’t work” in a noted interview at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in April in which he addressed political solutions to income inequality. Two years ago, Griffin gave $125 million to the University of Chicago, which is renaming its economics department after him.
PAUL TUDOR JONES
Founder, Tudor Investment and Robin Hood Foundation
Jones’s hedge fund, Tudor Investment, is one of the nation’s oldest, making the 64-year-old worth $5 billion. But he is better known for launching the Robin Hood Foundation, which has been providing millions of dollars to charities and social programs throughout New York since 1988. Its annual gala is a must for financiers on the city’s social and charity circuit.
This year, Jones joined billionaires like Ray Dalio who are speaking out about severe wealth inequality. He noted recently that 43 percent of people polled in the U.S. said they would vote for socialism over capitalism, adding, “I’m a capitalist, so I don’t want that to see that happen.”
Jones also just signed the Giving Pledge, created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, committing to giving away half of his substantial wealth. And last year he started JUST Capital, a nonprofit that ranks corporate ethical behavior and hopes to change corporate behavior by moral persuasion, not regulation.
A son of the South, Memphis-born Jones studied economics at the University of Virginia, then worked at E.F. Hutton, starting as a clerk. Jones decided not to study at Harvard Business School and started trading cotton futures on the NYSE instead. He launched his Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund in 1980, but it was his bearish bet on the market just before the 1987 stock market rout known as Black Monday that made him rich—and famous.
Founder and CEO, Third Point
Now 57, Loeb has shed his image as the enfant terrible of hedge fund shareholder activists. Once well-known for his “poison pen” letters to CEOs, today he is
Loeb proved his activist mettle last year when he
A native Californian, Loeb received an economics degree from Columbia University, then worked in a series of Wall Street jobs at such firms as Jefferies and Citigroup before eventually starting his Third Point hedge fund in 1995.
Loeb, who is worth $2.8 billion, is also a major art collector and is on the board of Sotheby’s, after waging an activist campaign against prior leadership several years ago. The auction house just agreed to a $2.66 billion deal to be taken private by Patrick Drahl, a leading art collector who is the founder of cable TV giant Altice.
Founder and Co-CEO, Elliott Management
Seventy-four-year-old Singer runs one of the oldest hedge funds around—it is 42 years old this year. He is also one of the most feared investors on the planet.
Singer first burst into public view in 2012 during his 15-year legal battle with Argentina, when he briefly nabbed an Argentine Naval frigate in a global search for assets to satisfy his debt claim against the South American country.
After winning his legal battle with Argentina in 2016, Singer
Singer has also been a top Republican financier for years and is longtime chairman of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Now worth $3.2 billion, he grew up the son of a pharmacist in Teaneck, N.J., received a JD from Harvard Law School in 1969 and started his hedge fund, Elliott Associates, in 1977.
CEO, Starboard Value
Smith was a little-known hedge fund manager when he roared into public view for criticizing the free breadsticks at
Since then, Smith has become a force in corporate America, highly regarded for his operational turnaround expertise. Early in 2019, Starboard shot to the top of the activist tables by announcing seven new investments worth $2.3 billion—which accounts for about half of Starboard’s assets under management. Earlier this year, Starboard was threatening proxy battles in at least three of its new activist plays.
Smith grew up in Great Neck, N.Y., and received a degree in economics at the Wharton School before embarking on a Wall Street career, starting in the M&A division of French bank Société Générale before joining hedge fund Ramius.
Founder and CIO, Paloma Partners
While Sussman runs hedge fund Paloma Partners in Greenwich, Conn., he is becoming better known as a top Democratic donor in the Trump era.
Financing for the 2020 election is still in its first innings, but so far Sussman is the lead donor in the race and contributed $865,300 during the first quarter, all of it to Democrats. Last year he was the fifth largest donor in the pivotal midterm Congressional blue wave, giving nearly $23 million to Democrats, which was more than he gave to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential bid, when he was her top individual supporter. (Sussman
A Florida native, Sussman is a graduate of New York University, where he received both a BS and an MBA. He founded hedge fund Paloma Partners in 1981, and early on became known for recognizing new talent and staking
Sussman is also a member of the board of trustees of Carnegie Hall, a member of the board of directors of ProPublica, which publishes investigative journalism, and an honorary trustee of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
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