His hedge fund investors refused to listen to him when Julian Robertson questioned the rationale of the prices paid for shares in emerging Internet companies in 1999. So months after he was verbally abused for 15 minutes at an annual shareholders’ meeting at the Plaza Hotel in New York in October 1999, he began closing his shop. “There’s no point in subjecting our investors to risk in a market I honestly don’t understand,” he said Reportedly wrote them in March 2000. “After thorough consideration, I have decided to return all of the capital to our investors, effectively lowering the curtain on the Tiger funds.”
In April 2000, the technology market began to implode.
His good timing only cemented the legend of Robertson, who, according to his spokesman, has just passed away at the age of 90 from heart complications, but which led to his 67th Tiger Management, one of the largest, most prominent and best-performing funds in the 1970s. year old hedge fund sector.
You don’t have to look far to appreciate its lasting impact. While Tiger Management reportedly achieved average annual profits of more than 30% in its 20 years in business, the stream of investment managers who cut their teeth as part of Robertson’s 200-strong team has become almost as legendary. Among the many hedge funds managed by people who have worked with Robertson — they’re known as “Tiger Cubs” — are Tiger Global, Lone Pine, Coatue Management, Viking Global, D1 Capital, and Pantera Capital, and that’s just one sampling.
“In a weird way, Julian Robertson gets trillions of dollars in assets under management because there are so many people who have worked directly for him [or] indirectly,” Daniel Strachman, author of Julian Robertson: A Tiger in the Land of Bulls and Bearstold the Financial Times last year.
Unsurprisingly, Robertson’s mentees speak enthusiastically about him, both as an investor and as a philanthropist. In addition to Robertson’s own family foundationand Tiger Foundationa nonprofit that says it has provided more than $250 million in grants to organizations working to break the poverty cycle in New York City, Robertson signed the 2017 promisewhich asks participants to give away at least half of their net worth.
One such protégé is Coatue founder Philippe Laffont, who worked for Robertson for three years before starting his own business in 1999 with a reported $45 million that, unlike Robertson, he promptly began plowing into technology stocks. (Laffont lost money during the recession the following year, but made his way through it.)
Coatue – a crossover fund named after a beach off the coast of Nantucket — has was squeezed again this year due to the decline in both public and private technology stocks. Still, Coatue had expanded his assets under management to nearly $60 billion late last year, and Laffont appears to owe Robertson some of that success.
“Julian was a legendary investor and a generous mentor,” Laffont said in a statement sent to londonbusinessblog.com this morning. “He did so much good in the world, and so often when no one was watching,” Laffont wrote. “We all feel lonelier without him here. He leaves a beautiful legacy that many of us will continue to strive for. I consider myself lucky to have had his friendship and mentorship in my life.”
Another famous student of Robertson’s is Chase Coleman, who worked as an investment analyst at Tiger Management for nearly four years before the hedge fund shut down. Coleman, who launched Tiger Global Management the following year, in 2001, also credits Robertson for much of the career he has enjoyed.
In a statement sent to londonbusinessblog.com earlier today, Coleman wrote: “Julian was a pioneer and a giant in our industry, respected as much for his capabilities as an investor as for the integrity, honesty, loyalty and competitiveness he brings to the table as a leader. He made time to be a true mentor, always lead by example and push us all to become the best version of ourselves. For that and for his friendship I am eternally grateful to him. He will will be sorely missed, but his impact on me and countless others, as well as the many communities he has reached through his philanthropic efforts, will remain.”
Like Coatue, Tiger Global is a crossover fund that has increasingly invested in both private technology companies and publicly traded companies. Like Coatue, it also has a relatively heavy 2022, because of the breathtaking zigs and zags of the market. (In fairness, the same is true for many companies, including Viking Global, whose founder, Andreas Halvorsen, once traded stocks with Tiger Management and, like Laffont, started his own business with Viking in 1999. Its flagship fund is on track for its worst year everBloomberg reported last month.)
Indeed, it’s easy to wonder what Robertson — whose success was tied to buying undervalued stocks with good earnings prospects — thought of these cubs’ aggressive moves toward late-stage private tech companies, especially given that some of them paid a price last year, driving sky-high valuations.
If Robertson ever questioned their different approaches, he never said so publicly. Even when Archegos Capital Management – the family office of another protege, Bill Hwang – suddenly collapsed spectacular fashion last year (Hwang was accused of) massive fraud by the SEC in April), Robertson came to Hwang’s defense in a rare interview with the FT, tell the exhaust last summer: “Bill is a good friend and I know Bill well. I think he made a mistake and I expect him to come out and just keep going.”