Billionaire Mathematician James Simons Flopped the First Time He Invested

James Simons is an investing legend. He founded a wildly successful hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies LLC, that employs Ph.D. mathematicians to detect subtle predictive patterns in market data. He’s accumulated a net worth of almost $16 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

In a talk on Oct. 26, Simons revealed that he hasn’t always been so smart about investing. He said he opened his first account, with Merrill Lynch & Co., when he was in his early 20s and needed a place to put about $5,000 in wedding gifts. He bought a few stocks, but they didn’t move, so he asked his broker for something more “exciting.” The broker recommended soybean futures, and luckily enough they went up in price, Simons said in an onstage interview at the IESE Business School in midtown Manhattan.

That’s when Simons made his first mistake as an investor. A colleague told Simons he should sell the soybean futures to lock in the gains but he ignored the advice. The price went right back down. 

Simons, who was working toward a doctorate in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley at the time, kept trying to make money on soybeans but eventually realized that uninformed speculation was not going to get him anywhere. “I’m either going to trade soybeans or write my thesis,” he recalled saying to himself. He earned his doctorate at age 23.

Pivoting to the Ph.D. was a good choice, because math later became the secret sauce of Renaissance Technologies, which is based in the Long Island village of East Setauket, N.Y., and has more than $50 billion under management. In between, Simons taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked as a codebreaker in Princeton, N.J., and built a highly ranked mathematics department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Simons doesn’t give a lot of interviews, so there was strong interest in his breakfast talk at the New York City campus of IESE Business School, a branch of the University of Navarra in Spain. His interlocutor was Bill Baker, an IESE professor who is past president of WNET-Thirteen, New York’s public television station. Here are some of the highlights:


Renaissance’s mathematicians and scientists sift through terabytes of data daily looking for anomalies—movements in prices that, if they persist, could become money-makers. The signals are faint. If they weren’t, someone would have found them already. To make money, Simons said, “You have to put together a lot of signals and just keep working at it, working at it.” Other firms took note of Renaissance’s success. At times, he said, “It felt like we were running in front of a pack of wolves that were trying to catch up and devour us.”


Robert Mercer, a co-chief executive officer of Renaissance, helped get Trump elected president and is a financial backer of Breitbart News, the right-wing website led by former presidential counselor Steve Bannon. Simons made no mention of Mercer but was clear that he’s no Trump supporter. “We’ve never had a president remotely like our current president,” Simons said. “We’ve had some doozies but never like that caliber.” Simons says he believes the U.S. is resilient and will bounce back from a Trump administration without lasting damage “if we can just get through these four years without an atomic bomb dropped.”


Simons, flouting the convention that mathematicians are antisocial, said one of his favorite tasks at Stony Brook and Renaissance was recruitment. His philosophy: “Hire the greatest people you can and then give them a lot of authority.”


The New York City-based Simons Foundation will give away about $400 million this year. It gives grants for basic research in math, physics, biology, the origins of life, and autism. The Flatiron Institute, founded last year in Manhattan, does in-house research in the hard sciences using computers—computational biology, etc. It’s helping build a complex of telescopes at high altitude in Chile’s Atacama Desert to search for primordial gravitational waves—a clue to how the universe was born in the Big Bang. When hedge fund founders talk about inflation, they generally mean rising prices. Simons is as likely to be referring to the theory that the universe expanded rapidly in the first tiny fraction of a second of its existence. Said Simons: “I’m not a fan of inflation.”


The Simons Foundation also funds Math for America, which seeks to improve science, technology, engineering, and math education in secondary schools. Simons said he was originally impressed by the idea of rewarding teachers based on the performance of their students on standardized tests until he realized that the scores were a poor indicator of teachers’ ability. The correlation of a teacher’s performance by that measure from one year to the next is almost random, he said. He also doesn’t like the project of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel to pay people who drop out of college to start companies. “I think it’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”


Simons didn’t say anything about his socks. He wasn’t wearing any, as is his custom. And not because he can’t afford them.


    Peter Coy
    Bloomberg Businessweek Columnist

    Peter Coy is the economics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek and covers a wide range of economic issues. He also holds the position of senior writer. Coy joined the magazine in December 1989 as telecommunications editor, then became technology editor in October 1992 and held that position until joining the economics staff. He came to BusinessWeek from the Associated Press in New York, where he had served as a business news writer since 1985.

    More From this publisher : HERE


  1. Tips To Increase Your Profits In Less Than 12 Months Using The Simple Techniques.
  2. Packed With 100's Of Amazing Photos That Will Prove To You That Time Travel Is 100 Real.
  3. Discover The 7 Secrets To Becoming An End-Time Prophecy Expert In 48 Hours...
  4. Workouts That Anyone Can Fit Into Their Busy Schedule To Burn Fat And Build Muscle
  5. Install new empowering ones every day.get daily vitamins for the soul in the Time
  6. Discover Crucial Steps Which Will Turn Time Of Crisis Into A Time Of Strength and Meaning.
  7. The richest eve online player breaks his silence and reveals all secret ISK making strategies.
  8. Download the PDF That Tells You What Teams To Bet On In The Half Time Betting Market.
  9. Clickbank Ads

    If you like our content help us with a share… or two …  

    Also -  I have some free stuff for you .......

    Nr 1. In This FREE Report you can Discover:

    Secrets to acquiring the freshest, hottest leads via YouTube In-Stream ads quickly and easily! Best secret tips for the most effective targeting for your ads! Totally legal, but little-known method for literally stealing traffic from your competitors! Get more traffic to your videos and landing pages without spending a fortune! And much more - all within this special FREE report!


    Nr 2. Did you know you can Absolutely EXPLODE YOUR EMAIL LIST FOR FREE with UNTOUCHED offline sources?


    Nr 3. The #1 secret to becoming an affiliate superstar - Earn your first $100 online – without a dime to invest.

    If you’re still looking to “make it online – I have just the thing for you. It’s a video series that shows how to make your first $100 online – even if you don’t have a dime to invest. Yes – nothing.  Free.  Nada. Is this possible? You bet. It’s the most powerful system used by those “in the know”. Good things don’t have to be difficult. And they don’t only come to those who wait. Have A Look


    Nr 4. Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes. Which of these mistakes do you make?


    Nr 5.  You can learn about : The hottest social networking site that will send an unlimited stampede of traffic to your site - for FREE! How to quickly locate a swarm of hungry buyers using "information portals"! The fast and easy way to use simple images to siphon targeted traffic, on command! Learn how to get the most possible traffic from Instagram, and make sure that traffic converts! And much more ...


    Nr 6. It’s no secret… Facebook is an incredible place to get tons of free, viral traffic. But… most people are going about it all wrong.  How many of these mistakes are you making? Download the free report to find out.


    Nr 7.  Special free report .  It's called "Operation Midas Touch" and you can download it here...

    The report features a surefire method for generating at least $1000 per week online,without a website or product of your own!

    Nr 8.  Instagram is still one of the hottest ways to get a LOT of traffic fast. All by sharing images. Sounds easy enough, yeah? Well, yes and no. If you want to really start driving a lot of  traffic and making sales using Instagram then you should download this report.

    Nr 9.  When it comes to creating a product online there are so many ways to approach it. Wouldn’t it be great to just get the meat of it all so you can get started faster? Well, the good news is, today you can download a guide called the Product Creation Formula Quickstart Guide. It’s as the title suggests - a Quickstart guide. You’ll get a list of action steps to take right away. Download your copy today !

    Nr 10. Would you like to finally USE all of that dusty PLR you have sitting around on your harddrive? Or maybe find the resources for the best PLR available - at the best prices? What about how to use that PLR to make you money with just a few minutes of work. Well, you’re not going to want to miss this!

      Nr 11. Buzzfeed’s top post has more than 21 million views. Think about that for a sec… ONE of their articles has had over 21 million people who have read it! And they have thousands of articles... what would you do with that kind of traffic? A friend of mine hacked their method and was able to use it to get 11,592 targeted new subscribers in 2 weeks on their very first attempt!

    Nr 12. Push notifications are one of today's hottest trends in website traffic and conversions, and for good reason. Studies have shown that as many as 40% of people will opt-in for push notifications, which is about TEN TIMES the rate of people who opt-in for emails! That’s huge! Not only that, but they're also highly effective at pulling clicks, as well. Some studies have shown CTR at an average of around 40%, with highs of as much as 80%! Again, that’s huge!

    Nr 13. Would you like to know how to get more money from the exact same number of website visitors you’re currently getting? Even if you’re website is getting as few as 1-2 visitors a day, this report will show you how to increase your profits using these few handy hacks.

    Nr 14. People have now realised that it's not the size of the list which matters, it's the quality. ... and the only way to create a quality list is by launching your own products. Let it be $7 ebooks, $17 info products, $27 video training product or software's... all of these work. My good friend Kevin Fahey has is revealing how he's launched over 20 products in the past 4 years, many of them top sellers. Needless to say he's banked a handsome amount in this time.

    Nr 15. Do you ever feel that the man you like or even love, just doesn't see you or desire you in way you want him to? Or... maybe you're able to get a man's attention though not the right kind of attention? Or... maybe you're still single because you wait and wait for men to approach you first? What you may not know is that the way we flirt will either attract the "wrong" man for us or the "right" man.

    Nr 16. When it comes to getting sales and leads online, there is ONE thing that 95% of marketers use... it's called a LIST. My friend Jimmy just released a free book that explains WHY a list is important and how YOU can build your own list. It's available right here (and it won't cost you a penny)

    Nr 17. If you have tried everything, and still aren't able to get your Ex back, then you need to pay attention.

    Nr 18. What if I told you that you could make ANY woman WANT to do ANYTHING for you? Would you think I'm crazy? Well... what If I told you that you could also make her LOVE every minute of it and come back for more?


    Nr 19. I have a special free plugin for you today. It's called "Covert Hover Mini"

    This plugin will triple your blog traffic by compelling your visitors to share your images on social media. This is some really clever stuff and it works like a charm. After you grab your free plugin, don't  forget to read the free bonus report as it will show exactly how and why this strategy works like crazy.

    Nr 20. The days of being able to get away with a basic WP theme and a pic or two are gone, your site needs to look good. Even Google are looking for you to have engaging graphics on your site. But getting good quality graphics made for your site is a pain, AND it will cost you both time and money (if you outsource it). But I have a special free download for you today. A virtual treasure chest of over 21K profit pulling graphics you can start sing today to generate more traffic & sales!

    Nr 21. 20 professional full HD background videos. These background videos are perfect for giving your videos that extra kick they need to stand out from the crowd Oh yeah they are in full 1080p HD too, I hope you'll enjoy them.

    Nr 22. If you've ever failed to create a WordPress site of your own or typically waste hours & even weeks trying to figure it all out on your own....

    Nr 23. No doubt, you've seen all of the video launches lately! There is a reason for it... Video marketing is a GREAT way to make money, and with the recent creation tools making it super accessable for anyone to get started... It's no surprise that more people are making videos. However... there is a missing element to most video marketing products...

    Nr 24. For the first time ever... You can get the straight scoop on how someone is selling over $1,000,000/year of t-shirts on Facebook!

    Use them  .... and have fun !