Legendary value investor John Anthony Griffin likes to tell up-and-coming investors to "build the ark on their sunny days," passing on sage advice from Julian Robertson, his mentor and former boss. Griffin, who frequently teaches at some of the most respected U.S. colleges, relishes the role of teacher, just as much as the role of hedge fund manager.
Personal Life and Education
John Griffin received his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce in 1985. He followed that up with an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1990. He lives in New York with his wife Amy in a 10th-floor co-op purchased for more than $32 million in 2008.
Prior to completing his MBA, Griffin was a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley Merchant Banking Group from 1985 through 1987. He then joined up with investing titan Julian Robertson, founder of Tiger Management Corp. and noted groomer of successful fund managers. Along with Griffin, Robertson employed and taught Lawrence Bowman, Lee Ainslie, Tom Brown, Paul Spieldenner, Andreas Halvorsen and Steven Mandel, all of whom started their own funds. The group is colloquially known as the "Tiger Cubs."
Before starting his own hedge fund, John Griffin acted as president at Tiger Management from 1993 until 1996. In addition to his duties as president, Griffin served as a portfolio manager for Tiger Management from 1994 through 1996.
Griffin founded Blue Ridge Capital Management in 1996. Blue Ridge is best known for its long-short strategy, the practice of complementing stock purchases with corresponding short positions. The strategy is considered risky by some, but its practitioners argue it is an effective way to boost returns. Most value funds only invest in an asset when it is considered undervalued while overvalued funds are ignored. Griffin believes overvalued assets can also be shorted to make returns.
The long-short strategy worked extremely well for Griffin in the run-up to the Great Recession. He reportedly pocketed more than $600 million, and Blue Ridge generated a net return of 65% in 2007 alone.
Net Worth and Current Influence
There are no reliable estimates of John Griffin's net worth after his monster 2005 and 2007 earnings. His hedge fund managed more than $8.5 billion in assets as of Q3 2015, though it is unknown how much of that belongs to Griffin or how much income he has earned along the way.
In terms of a lasting investment influence, John Griffin is revered for his rigid and thorough fundamental research, which includes a laundry list of variables to analyze. The most important of these come from his time at Tiger Management. Blue Ridge also laid out a series of "top reads" for mimicking investors across four broad categories: behavioral finance, analytics, economic indicators and historical parallels.
Griffin enjoys headlining hedge fund and value symposiums, often bringing along other Tiger Cubs to speak to large audiences of eager investors. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School, and he has created or served on several foundations to help nonprofits and investors, including the Blue Ridge Foundation, the Tiger Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Julian. H. Robertson Foundation. Griffin is particularly focused on inner city poverty in his hometown of New York City. He is the founding chair and a board member of iMentor, a relationship development program for students in low-income areas.
"The future is uncertain; it is always a difficult time to invest." Griffin is aggressive for a value investor and rarely tolerates sitting on the sidelines. His long-short strategies are a testament to his determination to find returns regardless of the market conditions.