Who is the $1.7bn man?

Publish date:

Alpha Magazine released its list of the Top 25 Moneymakers in hedge funds.
The top 10:
1. James Simons
2. Ken Griffin
3. Edward Lampert
4. George Soros
5. Steven Cohen
6. Bruce Kovner
7. Paul Tudor Jones II
8. Timothy Barakett
9. David Tepper
10. Carl Icahn
Some details on the top 3, from Alpha Magazine:

Last year three hedge fund titans each took home well in excess of $1 billion in what proved to be by far the most lucrative year in the six that Alpha has ranked the highest-earning managers. In total, the top 25 earners raked in more than $14 billion, equivalent to the GDP of Jordan or Uruguay. Their average take was a staggering $570 million, compared with $362 million in 2005 and $251 million the year before that. Just to qualify for our list, a manager needed to have earned at least $240 million -- nearly double the $130 million cutoff of a year ago and more than all but four managers made when we ran our first list in 2002.

Many of the guys on the list need no introduction, but who on earth is #1, how is it possible to quietly make $1.7bn, and what tax bracket is this guy in?
Simons is no stranger to a large payday, even though you might not know it from media coverage of hedge funds over the last several years (relative to the press hedge fund moguls like Griffin, Soros, Lampert, Cohen and Kovner get). Simons made $670mm in 2004, $1.5bn in 2005 and $1.7mm in 2006, which means he earned 97% of his net worth of around $4bn in the last 3 years. That’s quite an ascent from a paltry couple hundred million dollar fortune to the 64th richest person in the country.
How did Simmons do it? Simons was, to put it mildly, good at math. He went to MIT, got a PhD at Berkeley at 23, and taught math at Harvard (and probably a much harder course than "Magic of Numbers"). In 1974 Simons unleashed the Chern-Simons form (aka Chern-Simons invariants, or Chern-Simons theory) upon the unsuspecting world in the wildly popular paper - Characteristic Forms and Geometric Invariants. The Chern-Simons form was the Farah Fawcett poster of math major dorm rooms in the 1970s. Differential geometer Shiing-Shen Chern (and Jesus) was Simons’ co-pilot, and rock of stability.
Simons, having scored once (and only once) at a Renaissance fair, founded Renaissance Technologies Corp in 1982. The firm now has about $12bn under management (not including its Renaissance Institutional Equity Fund (RIEF) fund which has an asset ceiling of $100bn and is still accumulating capital), and a bag of holding, somewhere deep within its HQ on Long Island. The $6bn Renaissance Medallion (it gives Simons +5 dexterity) fund has averaged 37% annual returns after fees since 1989, which is even more impressive considering that the fees are insane. Simons charges a 5% management fee and a 44% incentive fee.
To say Renaissance is a bit quant heavy would be an understatement, as the firm is chalk full of international science and math studs, who wouldn’t tell you what they do on a day to day basis even if they were socially capable of having a normal conversation. The firm’s strategy is long/short, on secrets.
The Top 25 Moneymakers: The New Tycoons – [Alpha]
The hedge fund salary calculator – [FT Alphaville]