125 Influential People and Ideas
Michael Steinhardt

1896

Through a Wharton fellowship, W.E.B. DuBois undertook his classic study of the social and economic conditions of urban blacks.

Turned Risk Into Wealth

Michael Steinhardt, W’60

Named one of Business Standard’s “seven all-time best investors,” Michael Steinhardt, founder of Steinhardt Partners, was the son of a high-stakes gambler in New York. Steinhardt transformed that risk-taking impulse into high finance success by thriving in the often-wild world of hedge funds.

Steinhardt himself began conservatively in business, working at mutual fund group Calvin Bullock and brokerage Loeb Rhoades after graduating. Then in 1967 he co-founded the hedge fund company eventually known as Steinhardt Partners with William Salomon, former managing partner of Salomon Bros., and Jack Nash, founder of Odyssey Partners.

In his autobiography, No Bull: My Life In and Out of Markets, Steinhardt wrote about the industry: “Speculative joy, the joy derived from being right and being rewarded may well be similar to the rush felt by a winning gambler. I was happier when pursuing success than I was when savoring its fruits; the attraction, perhaps the addiction, was in the process, as much as in its end.”

For three decades investors admired Steinhardt’s big personality and even bigger financial gains. “He pioneered the notion that down days in the market were no excuses for losing money,” former hedge fund manager and Mad Money television-show host Jim Cramer has said. “He set the bar much higher.”

A former member of Wharton’s Undergraduate Executive Board, Steinhardt is also an active philanthropist. In 1994 he founded the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation, which seeks to revitalize Jewish identity through educational, religious, and cultural initiatives. One of Steinhardt’s most successful efforts has been the Birthright Israel program, which brings young Jews for their first visit to Israel.

Steinhardt is now chairman of Wisdom Tree Investments, a venture begun by Jonathan Steinberg, W’88, for which legendary Wharton professor Jeremy Siegel serves as Senior Investment Strategy Advisor.