Citadel's Ken Griffin is just one of the guys
Who is Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of hedge fund Citadel and founder of Citadel Securities? Will England, the 38-year-old CEO of hedge fund Walleye Capital thinks Griffin is "truly brilliant." Griffin's GameStop haters might beg to disagree.
Rightly or wrongly, Griffin has a reputation for running Citadel with a tight rein, but at last months' event for students at the London School of Economics, he was just Ken and not a 55-year-old billionaire with a net worth pushing $35bn.
“The friends you make here will be the most important friends for the rest of your life," Ken informed the students. "Your closest friends from university know who you are now – not who you become.”
Citadel was famously born out of $265k Griffin raised from his friends and family while he was a student at Harvard in 1987. And yet, despite his early dedication to trading bonds, Ken still has some good friends from his own time at college. One enduring friend dates back to the time he and Ken wrote Harvard theses based on the same data. “If you spend dozens of hours transcribing data together from a microfiche, you get to know someone very well," he told the students in London.
Griffin referenced his friends throughout his chat. He has friends in finance (and AI) and beyond. He has friends who run large investment banks, friends in consulting, and friends from university.
The message is, that even if you're one of the world's top hedge fund managers with apparent plans for a $1bn home in Miami, you still value friendship and inclusion. Steve Cohen seems to have reached the same conclusion with his new 'Uncle Stevie' persona running the New York Mets baseball team, which is a thousand miles away from the dubious accusations about life at SAC Capital back in the day.
Speaking to the 19 and 20 year-olds, Ken also seemed conscious of his age. He said twice, “I’m going to date myself,” and noted that his 15-year-old son is astonished that his aged father experienced the world before the internet.
For Griffin, though, remembering the era of floppy discs and fax machines isn't a great downer, but has endowed him with a perspective on how technologies transform everything. “The key is that, in a rapidly changing world, you need to have the ability constantly to learn, grow, and develop," he told the students. "For example, generative AI is a game-changing phenomenon across large parts of the global economy. If you're unwilling to embrace what that means in your field of expertise, that puts you at a real disadvantage to those who are.”
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