Julian Robertson died at the age of 90. He was the founder of Tiger Management and one of the most important hedge fund managers of all time.
Robertson became a hero because of his success at New York’s Tiger Management in the early days of the hedge fund business and because he helped start a family of hedge fund traders known as the “Tiger cubs.”
Dixon Boardman, the CEO of Optima Asset Management, worked with Robertson at the broker Kidder, Peabody & Co about 45 years ago, before Robertson started Tiger Management. Boardman said of Robertson, “He was himself a legendary investor.” “But maybe the best thing about him is that he inspired so many other great money managers.”
Robertson died at his home in Manhattan on Tuesday morning because of heart problems, according to a person who worked for him.
Between 1980 and 2000, Robertson’s Tiger Management beat the S&P 500 in 14 of those years. Trades like shorting the price of copper in 1996 and betting against the Thai baht the next year helped.
A spokesperson for him said that he started Tiger with $8mn and grew it into one of the largest hedge funds in the world, with $21bn under management. Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, was one of Robertson’s investors. Schwarzman said that Robertson was “one of the few people in the history of hedge funds who created a dynasty.”
Schwarzman said that in 1989, when Blackstone was only 4 years old and had just gotten $100 million from Japan’s Nikko Securities, Robertson went to the company’s small office in New York.
He told the Financial Times, “I had so much fun talking to him that I gave him all of our money.” “It turned out that I had given the money to the person who was, at the time, probably the best money manager in the world.”
By the time Robertson decided to give back investor money, the firm had lost a lot of money as investors pulled out and its performance dropped.
Even though Robertson lost 19% in 1999 when he didn’t buy into the dotcom bubble, Tiger had still given investors an average annual return of more than 25% by the time it returned their money.
After that, Robertson, an active philanthropist who gave more than $2 billion to charity during his life, continued to play a big role in the hedge fund industry. He inspired a generation of investors like Chase Coleman, Philippe Laffont, and Lee Ainslie, who went on to make billions of dollars for investors.
The founder of Coatue Capital, Laffont, said on Tuesday that Julian was a legendary investor and a kind mentor. “But most of all, he was a person of extraordinary integrity. He embodied not only what it meant to have a successful career, but also a deep love for family, a funny personality with friends, and a deep commitment to helping others.”
The founder of Maverick Capital, Ainslie, said on Tuesday, “Julian was a mentor and a friend to so many people who want to be like him as a great investor and an amazing philanthropist.”
According to research by LCH Investments, almost 200 hedge fund groups can trace their roots back to Tiger. Either the founder worked there, Robertson gave them seed money, or they were a “grandcub” that broke away from alumni firms.
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