In 1982, Jim Simons took his NSA-caliber code cracking abilities and put them to work at a hedge fund.
The founder of Renaissance Technologies, Simons is a renowned mathematician who prior to getting into investing was hired -- and fired -- by the National Security Agency (his dismissal was the result of his stance against the Vietnam War) and taught at MIT, Harvard and Stony Brook University. He launched Renaissance after spending some time toying around on the market.
"When I started doing trading, I had gotten a little tired of mathematics," he said a TED interview in September 2015. "I was in my late 30s, I had a little money. I started trading and it went very well. I made quite a lot of money with pure luck. I mean, I think it was pure luck. It certainly wasn't mathematical modeling. But in looking at the data, after a while I realized: it looks like there's some structure here."
Simons opened the doors of Renaissance Technologies in 1982 and has built into one of the most successful, complex hedge fund firms in the world. Using computer modeling and hiring experts in highly-technical fields like mathematics, astronomy and physics, Renaissance averaged 71.8% in annual returns, before fees, from 1994 through mid-2014. Its Medallion Fund is considered to be one of the most lucrative in the world.
Simons retired from Renaissance in 2009 and has a personal fortune estimated by Forbes to be $15.5 billion.
Tracking Renaissance Technologies' investments is easier said than done, given that the firm literally invests in thousands of holdings at a time. Its most recent 13F filing, corresponding to March 31, lists more than 3000 positions, of which nearly 500 are new.
Here is a closer look at 10 of Renaissance Technologies' biggest new buys of the first quarter.