Universa's Mark Spitznagel Spreads His Wings

November 01, 2011   Jan Alexander

Spitznagel is looking to apply the skills he learned managing black swan funds to macro investing

  Mark Spitznagel: I wanted to be away from Wall Street 
Photograph by Catherine Ledner
In the late 1990s, Nassim Taleb had a radical new idea for an investment strategy: He wanted to start a hedge fund designed to lose money when the market went up. The appeal would be that the fund would generate huge gains any time the market took an unexpected hit. Taleb — a trader, writer, professor and all-around renaissance guy — had the clout to get financial backing for his idea, but he needed a partner of like mind to help execute it. He found that in Mark Spitznagel, a young trader known for his skill at minimizing losses. Spitznagel was studying at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, where Taleb was teaching. In 1999, the two founded hedge fund firm Empirica Capital, which at its height had nearly $500 million under management.


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