Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson dies at 90

Julian Robertson, the founder of Tiger Management and one of the most influential hedge fund managers of all time, has died at the age of 90.

Robertson achieved heroic status both because of his record with New York-based Tiger Management during the early days of the hedge fund industry and because of the dynasty of hedge fund traders known as the “tiger cubs” who helped throw.

“He was a legendary investor himself,” said Dixon Boardman, chief executive of Optima Asset Management, who worked with Robertson at brokerage Kidder, Peabody & Co about 45 years ago before Robertson founded Tiger Management. “But perhaps his greatest legacy is having spawned so many other legendary money managers.”

Robertson died Tuesday morning at his Manhattan home of heart complications, according to his spokesman.

Robertson’s Tiger Management beat the US market in 14 of the years between 1980 and 2000, helped by trades such as a copper price cut in 1996 and bets against the Thai baht the following year.

He started Tiger with $8 million in funding, according to his spokesman, eventually growing it into one of the world’s largest hedge funds with $21 billion under management. Robertson’s investors included Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of Blackstone, who described him as “one of the few people in hedge fund history who created a dynasty.”

In 1989, when Blackstone was a 4-year-old company that had just raised $100 million from Japan’s Nikko Securities, Robertson visited the company’s small New York office, Schwarzman recalled.

“I had such a good time talking to him that I gave him all of our capital,” he told the Financial Times. “In the end it turned out that he had given the money to perhaps the best money manager in the world at the time.”

By the time Robertson decided to return investors’ capital, the company had seen a significant decline in assets as investors pulled out and yields plummeted.

Nonetheless, Tiger had generated average annual returns of more than 25 percent when he returned investors’ capital, even though Robertson lost 19 percent in 1999 when he refused to embrace the dot-com bubble.

After that, Robertson, an active philanthropist who gave more than $2 billion to charity during his lifetime, continued to play a major role in the hedge fund industry, spawning a new generation of investors, including Chase Coleman, Philippe Laffont and Lee Ainslie, who went on to generate billions of dollars in profits for investors.

“Julian was a legendary investor and generous mentor,” Laffont, founder of Coatue Capital, said Tuesday. “But above all, he was a person of extraordinary integrity, someone who embodied not only what it meant to lead a successful professional life, but embodied the deepest love for family, a humorous disposition toward friendship, and a deep commitment to community. philanthropy. ”

Ainslie, founder of Maverick Capital, said Tuesday that “Julian was a mentor and friend to many people who aspire to live up to his example as a great investor and extraordinary philanthropist.”

According to research by LCH Investments, nearly 200 hedge fund groups can trace their origins back to Tiger, either because the founder worked at the company, Robertson provided seed money, or because they were so-called “grandfathers” who spun off from the hedge fund companies. ex student.

Those who knew Robertson attribute some of his firm’s success to the influence of Dr. Aaron Stern, a psychoanalyst with whom he worked closely for years who passed away last year. Stern’s famous interview tests, consisting of some 450 questions, helped Robertson identify the best analysts to hire.

Among Robertson’s most controversial tiger cubs is Bill Hwang, the trader who presided over one of Wall Street’s most spectacular blowups when his firm Archegos Capital Management imploded in early 2021.

In a rare interview with the Financial Times last year, Robertson described Hwang as “a good friend” who had “made a mistake”. Hwang was arrested on fraud charges in the United States earlier this year.

Robertson’s influence over his protégés was enormous, and many adopted a similar style of investing. His goal was to find the 20 best stocks to buy and the 20 worst to bet on. While valuations were important, they could often be secondary to a company’s position in an industry or barriers to entry.

That approach helped Coleman become one of the most successful hedge fund managers of all time, before he was hit hard by this year’s sell-off. In a 20th-anniversary letter to investors last year, Coleman, who named his company Tiger Global after Robertson’s influence, described his former boss as a “world-class mentor” and said many were still used ” july-isms” in his signature.

“You took a risk with us from the beginning, accepted us as part of the Tiger family, and continually supported us along the way,” Coleman wrote. “You showed us how the best investors think and invest.”

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