Thursday, February 28, 2008

James Simons, (most successful trader ever?) profiled by the NY Times


He was fired a few months later, in the spring of 1968, for talking with a reporter about his antiwar views. He still marvels that Stony Brook was willing to make him a department chairman that year, when he was just 30.

He left Stony Brook in 1976, he said, because he had been struggling with an unsolved problem for two years and was restless.

“Some money had come in from an investment,” he told The Times. “I invested that money, and it went very well. I thought, ‘Hey, I’ll try this.’ ”

Today, Renaissance Technologies does more than well, running a fund for its employees of nearly $9 billion, as well as two funds with about $25 billion for outside investors.

So does the Simons Foundation, his private philanthropy, which this year will give about $80 million in grants, many to universities, but most hewing closely to Mr. Simons’s primary interests, math and autism. (One of his daughters is mildly autistic.) “It’s all for very basic research,” he said.

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