Who Is David Tepper?

David Tepper is regarded as a prominent investor and hedge fund manager. In 1993, Tepper co-founded Appaloosa Management L.P.

With a net worth exceeding $16.7 billion, David Tepper is recognized as one of the world's prominent billionaires.

Key Takeaways

  • David Tepper is a renowned hedge fund manager and co-founder of Appaloosa Management L.P.
  • He is the owner of a National Football League team, the Carolina Panthers.
  • In 2003, Tepper donated $55 million to Carnegie Mellon University and the university established the David A. Tepper School of Business.

Early Life and Education

David Tepper was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 1957. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in economics and earned an MBA in 1982 from Carnegie Mellon University. Tepper's early career in finance began with positions at Equibank, Republic Steel, and Goldman Sachs.

Appaloosa Management L.P.

In 1985, David Tepper joined Goldman Sachs as a credit analyst on the high yield debt team in New York. As a head trader, Tepper remained at Goldman Sachs for seven years. A specialist in distressed debt, particularly bankruptcies and special debt situations, Tepper left Goldman Sachs in 1993 to launch Appaloosa Management L.P. with his former colleague, Jack Walton.

Investing in Debt

As a limited partnership hedge fund, Appaloosa brought together a small group of wealthy investors. Appaloosa used high-risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, to realize large capital gains. Targeting the debt of companies in distress, Appaloosa's first investment was in the now-bankrupt Algoma Steel. Appaloosa would continue to bet and succeed on bond purchases of troubled companies like Enron, Worldcom, Marconi Corp., and Williams Co. These companies contributed to a 150% gain in Tepper's portfolio position.

At its inception, with $57 million in capital, Appaloosa delivered a 57% return on its assets within six months. The fund's worth grew steadily, from $300 million in 1994 to $800 million in 1996, and in 2022, Appaloosa managed $3.82 billion worth of assets.

The Crash

David Tepper's aggressive style and confidence are often seen as his best traits as a hedge fund manager. Following the 2008 subprime mortgage crash, when panicked sellers were driving down the value of financial institutions like Bank of America and Citigroup, Tepper was investing in them. The hedge fund tycoon purchased nearly $2 billion in face value commercial mortgage-backed securities floated by AIG. When the U.S. government intervened in the survival of the banks, Appaloosa profited by $7 billion. David Tepper's investments following the 2008 market crash are often viewed as some of the greatest market trades ever made.

Family Office

In 2019, David Tepper announced that Appaloosa would eventually move to a family office, continually returning capital to its investors each year. At the time, Appaloosa managed $14 billion worth of assets, with 70% of that total belonging to David Tepper.

As the fund moves into a family office, Appaloosa will return all capital balances to every investor who doesn't have a direct familial relationship with Tepper. This may entail “closing” the fund or creating a new private entity. David Tepper would then gain a greater degree of privacy, flexibility, and control over both his investment assets and personal affairs.

With Which Business Sectors Did Appaloosa Achieve Success?

David Tepper's investment in banks (AIG), energy (ENRON), and telecommunications (Marconi) helped define Appaloosa's success.

What Is David Tepper's View Of Crypto Currency?

David Tepper has equated holding crypto to holding gold. He views crypto as a stored value and has said that he owns a small amount.

What Is David Tepper's Interest in Sports?

David Tepper showed an interest in baseball and football at a young age. He had a penchant for memorizing baseball statistics. In 2009, he purchased a share of the NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. He bought another NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, in 2018.

The Bottom Line

David Tepper is known as one of the leading hedge fund managers of his generation. He is considered an expert in distressed debt investment. Garnering steady returns for client investors since its 1993 inception, Tepper's Appaloosa fund has compounded at more than 25% per year.

Article Sources
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  1. Forbes. "David Tepper."

  2. Carnegie Mellon University. "David A. Tepper (MBA '82) Donates Record $55 Million to Graduate School of Industrial Administration."

  3. NY Magazine. "Ready to Be Rich."

  4. Wallmine. "Appaloosa L.P. 13F Annual Report."

  5. The Wall Street Journal. "Fund Boss Made $7 Billion in the Panic."

  6. Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, "David Tepper Sees Path for Family Office."

  7. Institutional Investor. "Hedge Fund Hall of Fame."

  8. CNBC. "David Tepper thinks crypto is a store of value like gold and owns a small amount."

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