Former Hedge Fund Star Tries to Make a Comeback

September 28, 2016, 12:36 AM UTC
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John Thaler, the tech, media and telecom stock specialist who shut down his hedge fund firm JAT Capital Management LP in 2015, is considering a return to managing other people’s money, including launching a new hedge fund, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

One of the people briefed on his potential plans said no decision is imminent and Thaler, 41, is weighing a range of career options. He might remain a private investor through his family office, JAT Capital Partners, invest in a new asset class outside of stocks, or focus on something besides finance entirely, such as philanthropy, the person said.

Thaler declined to comment through an external spokeswoman. The two sources were not authorized to speak publicly.

Thaler launched Greenwich, Connecticut-based JAT in 2007 after working at Chris Shumway’s hedge fund firm Shumway Capital. JAT focused on Thaler’s specialty: the stocks of telecommunications, technology, and media companies such as Time Warner Cable, Twitter (TWTR) and Yahoo (YHOO).

In 2010, Thaler was named one of “Tomorrow’s Titans” by The Hedge Fund Journal and by 2011 JAT was managing about $3 billion.

Assets declined to $1.7 billion in 2015 following several years of volatile returns. The fund swung between double-digit losses and gains in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In 2015, it gained 6.3 % before returning capital at the end of June, putting its average annualized returns from inception at 5.7%, according to one of the people familiar with the situation.

It is a challenging environment for Thaler to launch a new fund. Industry data tracker HFR estimates that just 406 funds launched over the first half of the year, on pace for the lowest total since 2009.

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