Hedge Fund Manager Known For Inspiring Spine-Tingling Terror In People Hopes To Lighten Things Up With Haunted House Come October

Ken Griffin has more than one side to him.
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Ken Griffin is a mega-successful hedge fund manager who built a massive empire known as Citadel, almost lost it in 2008, and has come back bigger and better than ever in the years since. He's also known for scaring the absolute crap out of employees, counterparties, and various other individuals and groups he comes in contact with, through a combination of a short temper, zero tolerance for the wrong answer, and a stare that could burn the flesh off people's faces in three seconds flat. In a comeback profile of sorts today, the Journal explores this side of his personality, and those who've been lucky enough to experience it first-hand.

There's the higher-up at the firm who learned the hard way which questions are acceptable to pose at Ken and which are not:

With his empire again thriving, Mr. Griffin is working to address a reputation as an exacting and impatient boss, according to current and former employees and others close to the firm. It is a work in progress. Jamil Nazarali, head of Citadel Execution Services, recalls asking Mr. Griffin for his view on how much to bid to acquire a rival. “It’s your f—ing business—how much do you want to pay for it?” Mr. Griffin responded, according to Mr. Nazarali.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who won't get into super specifics but:

“Even in the context of intense people, Ken would probably be in the top decile of a very rarefied crowd,” said Lloyd Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

And, of course, his estranged wife:

A month after the divorce filing, Mr. Griffin let a moving crew into their duplex penthouse apartment at the Park Hyatt in Chicago while his wife was away. The crew left with furniture and artwork that Mr. Griffin regarded as his own. He also changed the credit cards of the household staff, which includes four nannies for the couple’s three children and a chef who lives nearby. Ms. Dias has asked the court to void her prenuptial agreement and give her custody of the children, with an eye toward moving them to New York. She has claimed expenses of roughly $1 million a month, including the use of two private jets and a six-figure monthly allowance for vacations. Her lawyers have said in court filings that Mr. Griffin told his wife he would sue her until she had no money left and at another point demanded she be a “good girl to him.”

But humans are complex and it would be unfair to paint Griffin as a simply a tyrant who inspires pants-pissing fear in people and makes Steve Cohen look warm and cuddly. Like everyone else, ole KG likes to (sometimes) have a good time and (occasionally) make people feel comfortable. According to the Journal, he sponsored a movie night this past spring and later this year, plans to display skeletons around the office and dunk people in a witch's cauldron, but in fun, carnival-esque way.

Last Halloween, he showed up at work dressed as the Dr. Seuss character the Lorax. He has told some employees he wants to convert part of an office floor to a haunted house this October.

See? It'll be great and a total departure from the mood around the place the other 364 days of the year. Now get the f*ck back to your desks. Candy corn is earned.

Citadel’s Ken Griffin Leaves 2008 Tumble Far Behind [WSJ]

Related

Let's Get One Thing Straight: Ken Griffin Only Accuses People Of Attempting to Gain A Competitive Advantage By Gaining Access To Proprietary Trading Strategies-- He Does Not Get Accused!

Back in October, a former Citadel employee, Yihao “Ben” Pu, was arrested and charged with "stealing trade secrets" from Ken Griffin (by "copying company data onto a removable storage device," and then attempting to sell it to Teza Technologies AKA the firm a bunch of ex-Citadel guys tried to join in 2009 before being sued for doing so by Griffin, as well as the the shop a former Goldman programmer, Sergey Aleynikov, went to jail for after giving it proprietary GS code). Now, because apparently people just can't help themselves, KG has been forced to levy another allegation of theft against some former employees who he believes took a piece of his property when they left for high-frequency trading firm Jump Trading. Does Griffin have actual evidence that they swindled him? No, not exactly. But he's got a hunch, and that hunch is based on the fact that since 2005, when people from Citadel's "tactical trading group" started leaving for Jump, "some of the strategies" employed by the TTG "have become less profitable" and are "behaving in a way consistent with their having been copied by rivals." So what KG would like a court to do is force Jump to turn over "personnel documents, strategy and trading records, and source code," which will prove him right and the Citadel defectors to be the plunderers he knows they are.  Evidence in hand, Griffin will then sue Jump and everyone named Ken Griffin will go home happy. The only issue that needs to be worked out is Jump Trading's cooperation, which so far is proving difficult to obtain. In fact, the firm is being downright unhelpful and not only that? Its legal team has accused Griffy-boy of being the thief, or at least trying to be. That's right: the way JT sees it, Citadel's new profitable algorithm development system is a two-step process that goes something like this: Step 1: Steal successful algorithms from rival firm. Step 2: Use them. In its response filing, Jump said that Citadel had no evidence that the algorithms had become less profitable because of any of Jump's actions. It said that any of the hundreds of other algorithmic trading firms could be at fault. "The petition is nothing more than a transparent attempt by Citadel to obtain a competitive advantage by gaining access to Jump's proprietary and confidential trading strategies," Jump's motion said. Your move, KG. Citadel Accuses Jump Employees Of Stealing Secrets [Reuters]

Ken Griffin Is Good Enough, He's Smart Enough, And, Doggone It, He'll Keep Putting Up Double-Digit Returns This Year!

Citadel, the Chicago-based fund manager, trumpeted “an exceptional year” at its two main hedge funds, announcing annual returns of about 25 per cent in a letter to investors. Ken Griffin, Citadel’s founder and chief executive, said flagship funds Wellington and Kensington made a net return of 25.9 per cent and 24.9 per cent for 2012...The 2012 results follow a turbulent 2011 when Mr Griffin scaled back his ambition to build a more diversified financial institution to take on the likes of Goldman Sachs in investment banking. He set out three priorities for 2013: “to be highly profitable, to improve our productivity and to strengthen our teams." [FT]

Ken Griffin Would Love To Spend All His Time Figuring Out How To Keep His Funds Above Water But Someone Has To Make Sure America Stays Awesome

"I spend way too much of my time thinking about politics these days because government is way too involved in financial markets these days," he said in a rare interview. He later added. "Part of my sensitivity to these issues is that I now live in the middle of a hyper-regulated industry, where not only is government affecting how capital markets work, or how banks work, but (the government) is punishing savers." The 43-year-old hedge fund manager said he has invested more time than ever before on politics since the financial crisis of 2008 nearly crippled Citadel. The firm's two flagship funds have since recovered, surpassing their so-called highwater marks this year..."I think (the ultra-wealthy) actually have an insufficient influence," Griffin said in an interview at Citadel's downtown office. "Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet." [Chicago Tribune, related]