Skip to main content

Bill Ackman Had An Epiphany

The eureka moment: "I need to make money."
  • Author:
  • Updated:

After watching Valeant implode, Herbalife do the opposite, and virtually every other part of Bill Ackman's career, in his words, “fall apart,” one would do well to remember that the Ack Man is not always wrong. In fact, he's learned plenty from his experiences, with lessons including You Can't Control The Government and It's Bad When Stocks Go Down.


The overarching moral is one Ackman learned all the way back in 2010: “Sometimes the better part of valor in an investment situation is to move on. Onward.” But since the intervening years have shown that bit of canned wisdom to be useless, we're left wondering if there's some deeper, even more profound insight that has emerged from the Passion of the Bill. Now we know there is:

“You pick amazing people, you don’t have to worry, you can trust them,” Ackman said of Pershing Square Foundation’s staff and grantees, drawing an analogy with Warren Buffett managing Berkshire Hathaway with a head office of only 25 people.

And his role? “I need to make money,” Ackman said in an interview later in the evening. “I used to take it for granted, now I’m very focused.”

So what has Ackman been doing for the last few years if not making money? When you're watching every pillar of a massive investment thesis turn to dust, it's easy to get wrapped up in some kind of savior complex. Valeant wasn't some lost cause to Ackman – it was a like a troubled teen who fell into his custody, needing only the strong moral guidance of a wise father figure to get on the right path. In the case of Herbalife, meanwhile, Ackman has expended his energies playing out some Erin Brockovich fantasy, the lone truth-teller challenging the evil corporation.

Of course, both of these activist-plays-cum-character-studies are intended to generate returns for shareholders. But it's easy to see how all the tangential stuff starts to distract from Pershing Square's ostensible raison d'etre.

Anyway, we look forward to this new chapter in the life of Ackman: the part where he makes money.

Ackman, Counting Philanthropic Wins, Says He Needs to Make Money [Bloomberg]


Bill ackman beach

Bill Ackman Wants The World To Know How Hard It Is Being Bill Ackman

The ADP-Pershing Square battle is going about as expected.

Bill ackman beach

Looks Like ADP May Not Be Bill Ackman's Next Chipotle After All

Though if it's any consolation, at least ADP won't make him violently ill.

Bill ackman beach

Bill Ackman And Valeant: A Play In Two PowerPoint Slides

This might be Pershing Square's finest work yet.


Whatever Happens Tuesday, The Biggest Loser Is Bill Ackman

Pry your eyes from the polls for a moment and stew in some Ackman schadenfreude.


Bugs Must Die So Bill Ackman’s Career Can Live

Just 13 more deals like this one and Bill will be... back where he was before he lost all that money on Valeant.


Now Is A Great Time For Bill Ackman To Buy ADP

The best thing that can happen to an investment nowadays is for Bill Ackman to be wrong about it.