The Great Jim Simons

I want to share a terrific video of Jim Simons speaking to an audience at MIT. Simons is a mathematician, hedge fund manager and now philanthropist so it’s no wonder that his firm is called Renaissance Technologies. In this talk, Simons shares stories about riding a scooter from Boston to Bogota, getting fired from the Institute for Defense Analyses, and the success of Renaissance Technologies. Without spoiling too much of it, here is one bit that I really enjoyed.

In 1976 at age 38, he left the math department at Stony Brook to manage money professionally. Simons says:

“Lenny seemed to get less and less interested with the models and more interested in reading the news reel. In those days it was just a role that would tick away. Lenny was more interested in reading the news than thinking about models. And then he started having opinions on what was gonna go up and what was gonna go down. This was all foreign currencies, bonds that kind of stuff. And I started listening to him, he was right, he was right. He was right enough times I said okay the hell with the modeling. Let’s just try to make some money. We had a remarkable run, in two years since I said the hell with the model we multiplied our investor’s money by twelve, even after their fees. We were incredibly lucky.”

Watch it all here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVdTF4_QrTM&w=560&h=315]

Hat tip to Will Ortel for sharing this video

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