Jim Simons, billionaire quantitative investing pioneer who generated eye-popping returns, dies at 86

by 24USATVMay 10, 2024, 8:01 p.m. 25

Jim Simons attends the IAS Einstein Gala at Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Jim Simons, a mathematician who founded the most successful quantitative hedge fund of all time, passed away on Friday in New York City, his foundation announced on its website.

Pioneering mathematical models and algorithms to make investment decisions, Simons left behind a track record at Renaissance Technologies that rivaled that of legends such as Warren Buffett and George Soros. His flagship Medallion Fund enjoyed annual returns of 66% between 1988 to 2018, according to Gregory Zuckerman's book "The Man Who Solved the Market."

During the Vietnam War, he worked as a codebreaker for U.S. intelligence, monitoring the Soviet Union and successfully cracking a Russian code.

Simons received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1958 and earned his Ph.D in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley at the age of 23. The quant guru founded what became Renaissance in 1978 at the age of 40 after he quit academia and decided to give a shot at trading.

Unlike most investors who studied fundamentals such as sales and earnings and profit margins to evaluate a company's worth, Simons relied entirely on an automated trading system to take advantage of market inefficiencies and trading patterns.

"I have no opinion on any stocks. ... The computer has its opinions and we slavishly follow them," Simons said in a CNBC interview in 2016.


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