As much as major hedge funds are a secret society and tight lips are a requirement for staying in the game, there are those manic moments when managers blurt out something so heinous, horrendous or just downright hilarious. Sure, activists are known for their outrageous comments and courting the press to take their campaigns public, but the crazy quotes come from all types of funds.
In court this week John Paulson's former right-hand man Paolo Pellegrini claimed he doesn’t know what “C.D.O.” means, even though his former boss helped construct it. After a tiff, he finally conceded that it might stand for “collateralized debt obligation.”
But the absurdity doesn’t stop at acronyms. It's what is sometimes said in the form of earnest advice that sparks media storms or just makes you wonder how much sleep deprivation it takes to topple these titans.
Here’s a sampling of the odd, often outlandish utterances referencing careers, colleagues and family.
Whitney Tilson, who named his hedge fund KASE Capital after his three daughters, won some new fans and alienated others when he responded to a July 12 New York Times front-page story about the campus “hookup” culture at the University of Pennsylvania.
In an email to his education reform listserv and on his School Reform Blog, Tilson offered alternatives on what to do if a guy tells you to “get down on your knees;
”a) walk away
b) better yet, punch him in the mouth and walk away
c) better yet, kick him in the balls and walk away
d) better yet, pretend to go along with it, but when he pulls it out, squint, laugh, and walk away
e) better yet, bite it!"
David Einhorn gives good quote. His 2010 takedown of The St. Joe Company was lauded as “epic.” He takes a more charitable approach to his wife, giving her credit for naming the firm he launched in 1996 with $900,000. With a net worth of $1.25 billion as of March, the beloved activist ranks #360 on the Forbes 400.
In his New York Times bestseller, “Fooling Some of the People All of the Time, A Long Short,” Einhorn acknowledged how he chose Greenlight Capital: “Cheryl named the firm, giving me the green light. When you leave a good job to go off on your own and don't expect to make money for a while, you name the firm whatever your wife says you should.”
Contrarian British historian, Harvard professor and an investment management consultant for GLG Partners, Niall Ferguson repeatedly inserts his foot firmly into his mouth. His latest bout with verbal diarrhea was documented in May when he implied economist John Maynard Keynes is gay.
In 2010, when he left his wife for a feminist filmmaker he met at the Time 100 party, a slew of quotes hit the press, including one gloating about his ability to siphon money from hedgies: "There was a point when it was not impossible for me to get $100,000 for a one-hour speech at some extravagant hedge-fund manager conference in an exotic location."
In his 2011 “Principles by Ray Dalio,” founder of the $150 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, reveals “My Most Fundamental Life Principles” and “My Management Principles.”
Career advice includes: “Don't worry about looking good - worry about achieving your goals.” Oft seen sans tie and top buttons undone, it’s working for Dalio.
Paul Tudor Jones, founder and president of $13 billion Tudor Investment Corp., has yet to live down the comments he made at an April roundtable at the University of Virginia: giving birth aborts a woman’s ability to focus on macro trading.
Women can be married and succeed at work; it’s making babies that kills your career. “As soon as that baby’s lips touch that girl’s bosom, forget it,” he said, unforgettably – despite his ongoing apologies.
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