Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Mistakes I Have Made Trying to Develop a Relationship with a Billionaire

by James Altucher

I wanted to change everything and have it all be better. I was sitting in the waiting area of Stevie Cohen’s office (the biggest hedge fund billionaire out there) and I knew that within a few minutes my life would change.

Every now and then you have those moments when its up to one person to turn your life upside down and make it better. Sometimes they don’t even realize how much power they have in their hands. Sheila Nevins, the executive producer of all of HBO’s TV shows about prostitutes (and the head of their Family Programming division) once had that power over me. She would look at a 45 minute video and could decide “Yes” or “No” and my whole life could change. That was in 1998. She said, “No”.

So now I’m in 2004, and I had been trading about $27 million allocated to me from various hedge funds and investors. But its hard to build a business so I wanted to switch to trading for Stevie Cohen’s SAC Capital, the biggest hedge fund in the world. Stevie Cohen was the best investor in the world and people working for him could make 10s of millions of dollars a year or more.

At first I emailed him. I didn’t have his email address so I tried various combinations of,,, etc. I sent about 30 emails to 30 different combinations of the above. No response. The next month I did it again. And again. Finally, after a year of doing this, there was a response: “Whats your IM”. So Stevie Cohen, the best investor in the world, with $3bb of his own money in SAC Capital, and I started to IM with each other.

I explained my approach and he wanted to meet. So a few weeks later a car service took me to Stamford, CT. I’m not allowed to drive. Particularly in Connecticut. But that’s another story.

I waited for about a half hour. It was near the close of the trading day so I assumed he was busy. People were walking in and out of the building. They were all wearing these fleece jackets that said SAC Capital on them. They were like a big family. They all loved each other. I could tell. I wanted to be part of the family also. So I could love them and they could love me. We would joke around at lunchtime. Maybe we would make fun of Cohen and all laugh but all nervously looking around to make sure he wasn’t there. Slowly we would get to know each other and, when they were comfortable with me, maybe they would invite me over to dinner to meet their family. “This is that new guy I was telling you about. Thank God Stevie Cohen hired him!”

Finally, someone came to get me, “He’s ready for you now.” She brought me to another person who wasn’t Stevie Cohen. And then this person took me to Stevie Cohen’s office. His office was the size of a small football stadium. I had always heard he sat out in the center of the trading floor with his traders but this was his private office. If he were Dr. Strange from Marvel Comics this would be known as his Sanctum Sanctorum. He was sitting on the couch.

Read the rest here.