Until 2016, Jacob Gottlieb kept a relatively low profile as CIO of the massive $8 billion healthcare hedge fund, Visium Asset Management. However, in June of 2016, Gottlieb rose to public notoriety as the company he founded was rocked by a massive insider trading scandal. While Gottlieb has emerged from the scandal legally unscathed, several of his partners were not so lucky. Jake Gottlieb is, in fact, the only key executive still standing at Visium. Let’s explore the personal history of Gottlieb and how it spurred the creation of one of America’s largest healthcare hedge funds.
Jacob Gottlieb’s Diverse past
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Gottlieb is the son of Polish immigrants who came to the United States in the 1960s. Gottlieb’s parents, Max and Helena were both successful professionals, his father a professor of economics, and his mother a pediatrician. With parents in these careers, it’s no wonder that Gottlieb took an early interest in both economics and healthcare and that these interests would guide his future education and professional pursuits.
Gottlieb’s talent for investing was identified at an early age. When he was in the 7th grade, Gottlieb won a stock selection contest at school. Wanting to nurture his son’s newfound talent, his father set him up with his own investment trading account. After completing secondary school, Gottlieb pursued his two main interests, economics and medicine, and completed a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Brown University, and a Doctor of Medicine from NYU Medical School. Planning to pursue a career in medicine, Gottlieb completed an internal medicine internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital. However, his interest in medicine was short-lived and he decided to pursue a finance career on Wall Street as well as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
A Medical Mind in Investment
Gottlieb’s trading career began in 1998 when he started with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. as a buy-side analyst covering global healthcare. After a couple of years, Gottlieb left Sanford to advance his career as a healthcare portfolio manager at Merlin Biomed Group. His tenure at Merlin was short and he quickly moved on to a position at Balyasny Asset Management (BAM). It was here that Gottlieb really hit his stride and became a top earner at the firm known for his large portfolio gains. Seeking the opportunity to manage a larger fund, Gottlieb and his team left BAM to start Visium in 2005.
Gottlieb was instrumental in building Visium and, at its height, it was an $8 billion dollar hedge fund with 170 employees. However, in 2016, Visium was publically disgraced by charges of insider trading. Gottlieb has not been charged with any wrongdoing and so continues his work as CIO as the company winds down. Outside of his work at Visium, Gottlieb is active in several New York-based nonprofits: Covenant house, Math for America, and the Robin Hood Foundation.
Attention to Public Service
Covenant House is an international organization that has been working since the 1970s to help and protect children. Much of their work is focused on homeless youth as well as runaway and trafficked children and on providing shelter, food, and immediate crisis care. In addition to basic support, Covenant House offers services including healthcare, educational support, job readiness and skills training programs, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs, legal services, mental health services, mother/child programs, transitional living programs, street outreach, and aftercare. Covenant House has grown to be the largest privately funded agency of its kind and now serves over 20 cities in the U.S., Central America, and Canada.
Math for America (MfA) was founded in 2004 by American billionaire mathematician, fund manager, and philanthropist, Jim Simons. Noticing the inability of the U.S. education system to produce graduates with sufficient skills in science, technology, education, and math (STEM), Simons founded the non-profit with a mission to promote the recruitment and retention of high-quality STEM teachers in New York City schools. Simons donated $25 million to start the organization which provides teachers with higher salaries and fellowship training. There are over 1,000 teachers currently enrolled in MfA fellowships.
Founded in 1988, the Robin Hood Foundation is dedicated to alleviating the issues associated with poverty in New York City. Last year Robin Hood donated more than $129 million to over 200 poverty-fighting organizations that provide childhood and youth development, education, jobs and economic security, disaster relief, and basic survival and support services. The foundation is considered to be “one of the most innovative and influential philanthropic organizations of our time” (Fortune) and is led by a diverse staff that includes PhDs, attorneys, nonprofit leaders, government officials, management experts, musicians, actors, journalists, yoga instructors, and chefs. The foundation is led by several boards and councils and all of the foundation’s administrative costs are underwritten by its board members.