Flying (the Coop) at Tiger
SAN FRANCISCO -- There are NO rumors of additional performance problems; nothing of that ilk. But the fact remains the
exodus by employees at
The latest round of departures (or soon to depart) includes Chris Shumway, a member of the management committee and managing director in the macro area of the legendary hedge fund. Shumway, who declined to comment, is leaving to run "family money," according to a Tiger spokesman. Others heading for the exits include analysts Charlie Anderson and Tom Purcell.
While Shumway's pending departure (he was still at Tiger today) is more significant, the experiences of Anderson and Purcell may be more telling. But telling of
remains the question.
To some, the turnover at Tiger is reflective of the hedge fund's recent struggles. The roughly $11.5 billion macro fund (down from a peak of $20 billion in 1998, BTW) was down 17.5% for the year as of Aug. 31, according to a source familiar with its performance. That, after reportedly being down 3.9% in 1998. Given that compensation is based partially on the fund's performance, some observers say the departures are easily explained.
But it may be more complicated than that (as are most things, according to my podiatrist). Forget for a moment that we're in the longest-running bull market in history (which more and more people do every day) and there's a lot of money being "thrown" at people with a Tiger pedigree who are interested in new challenges. Instead, let's focus on the fact there has been a "concerted effort" in the past year to recruit "more experienced and senior people" to Tiger, according to the firm's spokesman.
That effort has resulted in some high-profile Wall Street analysts joining Tiger, including Tom Kurlak from
; Patrick Earle from the former
Warburg Dillon Read
); Tom Brown from
Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette
; and Paul Brooke from
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
More recently, Patrick McCormack, a retailing analyst from
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown
, Selena Chaisson, a biotech analyst from
, and Dale Precoda, from
, have joined or agreed to join Tiger, the spokesman said.
Tiger's PR man declined to speculate, but the sense among some observers is that junior people see these "heavy hitters" coming in and decide their career paths are suddenly blocked, or -- at least -- obstructed like the arteries of so many overindulgent beef eaters. Moreover, while Tiger's PR folk (shock!) tout the track records of the new hires, at least one former Tiger analyst wonders whether the change is for the best.
The newcomers are "experts, but this might be their last stop on the way to retirements vs. young guys who are intensely motivated and whose energy flows up," the source said. "They're paying massive guaranteed contracts" to these former Wall Street (vs. juke box) heroes. "The culture has changed dramatically. Maybe it will work, but the loss of people and talent has been material."
The source, who requested anonymity, also wondered how some of the former analyst "all-stars" will respond to Tiger chieftain Julian Roberston's sometimes "confrontational" management style.
"Julian is a phenomenal money manager -- I can only wish to emulate him," he said. "But I'm not sure whether these
new hires will react to him positively, and there's a real cost" to losing someone who's shown they fit with Julian.
Robertson was unavailable for comment today.
And while other former Tiger employees defend Roberston and his style, the issue of employee departures remains. As reported here Aug. 10, Tiger lost veterans Quinn Reardon, Dwight Anderson, Peter Vig, Andreas Halvorsen, Brian Olson and David Ott earlier this year.
In addition, sources confirm, previous departures this year include: Trent Carmichael, Bjorn Reese, Bill Welch, David DiDomenico, Marco Tablada (London), Paul Spieldenner (Tokyo), Hiro Nakashin (Tokyo), Kevin Becker, Rob Citrone, Scott Sinclair and Jill Jacobs.
I was unable to ascertain the whereabouts of those former Tigers, thus, none could be reached for comment. (Had I been able to reach them without knowing where they are, this column would have it's own psycic hotline email.)
As if it doesn't have enough to deal with already, Tiger Management is embroiled in a pitched battle over its namesake.
OK, that's a gross overdramatization. But attorneys representing Tiger Management -- Atlanta's
King & Spalding
-- have contacted
requesting the site change its name.
"It is our client's and our belief that your use of the name "TigerInvestor.com" is likely to cause confusion regarding ...
some HEAVY legalese
... whether your web site is connected or associated in some
way with Tiger Management," an Aug. 26 letter from the attorneys reads (in part). "Such confusion is detrimental to both your firm and to Tiger Management. We therefore request ... that you change your domain and Website name."
Tiger Management's spokesman said there is no lawsuit and called the letter "pleasant and courteous."
Tae Kim, TigerInvestor.com's 24-year old founder and editor-in-chief, would probably disagree with that analysis.
"They sent a legal letter demanding we stop" using the Tiger name, Kim said. "I don't think there's any potential for confusion. We're not using the word Tiger by itself, we're using TigerInvestor.com. They're a money manager, we're like
and offer articles about trading. It's kind of ridiculous, especially since we don't manage money."
Kim has not responded to the letter and chafed at the idea of having to shell out "tens of thousands" of dollars in legal fees if a lawsuit ensues (say that five times fast).
He noted TigerInvestor.com's
homepage features a disclaimer disavowing any connection with Tiger Management, which has no Web presence.
As for TigerInvestor.com's claim to be "one of the most popular investing sites on the Net," he said the site gets over 100,000 page views per month and has "thousands of readers" in the online trading community. (So there!)
Tiger Financial Group
has www.tigerfutures.com and
Tiger Investment Group
No word on whether Tiger Management has taken similar steps against these institutions, much less the
Tiger Woods, the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats , the
Balmain Tigers or the
Melbourne Tigers. (just to name a few).
Aaron L. Task writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at