Who Was Julian Robertson?

Julian Robertson was an American investor and former hedge fund manager best known for founding Tiger Management in 1980, which grew to be one of the most prominent hedge funds of its generation.

Robertson closed the doors at Tiger in 2000 and went on to mentor younger hedge fund managers and philanthropic ventures focusing on higher education and medical research.

During the 1980s and the early 90s, Robertson was often referred to as the “Father of Hedge Funds” and the “Wizard of Wall Street.”

Key Takeaways

  • Julian Robertson was a high-profile hedge fund manager in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • Robertson employed a long-short strategy designed to profit from the performance gap between his picks for the best and worst stocks.
  • Julian Robertson lived in New Zealand for a year.
  • He formed the idea for Tiger Management while on his year-long sabbatical.
  • Many of Robertson's proteges who worked for him went on to become successful hedge fund managers.
Julian Robertson

Investopedia / Julie Bang

Early Life and Education

Julian Robertson was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, on June 25, 1932, to Julian Hart Robertson Sr., (an executive of a textile company) and homemaker, Blanche Spenser Robertson. After graduating from Episcopal High School in his hometown, he went onto the University of North Carolina and graduated in 1955.

Following two years in the Navy, Robertson joined the New York office of Kidder, Peabody, & Co. as a retail broker in 1957. He climbed the firm’s ranks and eventually took the helm of its asset management division, known as Webster Securities. Robertson departed Kidder, Peabody, & Co. for a year-long sabbatical in New Zealand in 1979.

Notable Accomplishments

While in New Zealand, Robertson hatched the idea for a new fund. He founded Tiger Management, one of the first hedge funds, upon his return to New York in 1980. Robertson used initial assets believed to be approximately $8 million. Tiger's assets grew to $22 billion over the next two decades. The fund's success is credited to Robertson's ability to identify investment opportunities within the framework of a global macro trading strategy. Robertson frequently employed a long-short strategy, loading up on the best stocks he could find while shorting those he considered the worst.

Julian Robertson is credited with being the first major hedge funder, and his success spawned numerous successful hedge fund investors.

In the late 1990s, Robertson was also known for his avoidance of tech investments during the buildup of internet stocks in the late 1990s. This avoidance was a double-edged sword for Tiger Management. The fund performed well during the eventual collapse of the tech bubble but suffered from a drain of capital as investors took their money to Silicon Valley. An additional stressor came from a significant investment in U.S. Airways, which did not go well for Robertson. U.S. Airways would file for bankruptcy protection in 2002 and again in 2004.

Robertson liquidated the Tiger Management fund in 2000 following poor performance. He wrote that Tiger’s success had been based on a rational approach to valuation and trading. This strategy had proven less effective alongside the irrational growth of internet stocks.

In the years that followed, Robertson focused his efforts on mentoring and investing with a slate of up-and-coming hedge fund managers known as the “Tiger Cubs.” Prominent members of this group include John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital, Ole Andreas Halvorsen of Viking Global, Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management, and Steve Mandel, formerly of Lone Pine Capital.

Wealth and Philanthropy

Robertson was active in philanthropic activities after turning away from fund management. He founded scholarships at his alma mater and Duke University and committed to The Giving Pledge, a campaign launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Robertson was also active in New Zealand, purchasing a handful of luxury lodges throughout the country.

Forbes reported that Robertson donated $1.3 billion to charitable causes. Among them include environmental protection, charter schools, and medical research. As of April 5, 2022, Robertson was reportedly worth $4.8 billion. Julian Robertson died on August 23, 2022 at the age of 90, at his home in New York.

Who Is the Wizard of Wall Street?

Julian Robertson was a billionaire who made his money in hedge funds who was nicknamed the "wizard of Wall Street" due to his investment acumen.

Is Julian Robertson Alive?

Julian Robertson passed away on August 23, 2022 at the age of 90, at his home in New York. Following his retirement Robertson spent much of his time as an active philanthropist, who donated over $1 billion to charitable funds.

Who Were the Tiger Cubs?

The phrase "tiger cubs" referred to the young hedge fund managers who worked at Julian Robertson's Tiger Management Fund firm. Many of them became successful hedge fund operators after moving on from Tiger Management, where they were trained under Robertson.

The Bottom Line

Julian Robertson was a former hedge fund manager who founded Tiger Management, a highly successful hedge fund in the eighties and nineties. The fund was one of the most well-known hedge funds of its generation before it closed in 2000. Robertson was known for his business acumen, generous philanthropic work, and mentoring young investors interested in operating hedge funds.

Article Sources
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  6. The New York Times. "Investing Diary: Left Holding the Bag on U.S. Airways Stock."

  7. Los Angeles Times. "U.S. Air Files for Chap. 11 Again."

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  12. Forbes. "Stephen Mandel, Jr."

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  14. Robertson Scholars. "Our Benefactors." .

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