Jim Simons, Math Professor Turned Hedge Fund Manager, Dies At 86

Jim and Marilyn Simons - Simons Foundation

Jim Simons, a former math professor who transitioned into hedge fund management, passing away at the age of 86 in his Manhattan residence, was announced by his foundation on Friday.

Simons, renowned for his mathematical prowess and tenure as the head of Stony Brook University’s mathematics department, ventured into financial markets in 1978 at the age of 40.

Establishing Renaissance Technologies in 1982, he later initiated the Medallion Fund in 1988, recognized for consistently outperforming the broader market and rival investors, while meticulously guarding its operational intricacies.

Situated in East Setauket, New York, near Long Island Sound, Renaissance, distinctively distancing itself from conventional Wall Street practices, recruits top-tier mathematical minds. The firm prides itself on its workforce, with 90 out of its 300 employees holding PhDs in math, physics, computer science, or allied disciplines.

Jim Simons – Simons Foundation

With approximately $50 billion in assets under management, Renaissance’s Medallion Fund, exclusively available to Simons and company employees, charges management fees of 4% and performance fees ranging from 36% to 44%.

Despite the high fees, the fund has boasted an annualized net return exceeding 30% since its inception, surpassing Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which achieved a compounded annual gain of 20%.

Simons’ wealth surged, ranking him as the 51st richest individual globally at the time of his demise, with an estimated fortune of $31.4 billion. Initially listed on the Forbes 400 list in 2004 with a net worth of $2.5 billion, his wealth ballooned significantly over the years.

Simons maintained a reserved demeanor, with details regarding his investment strategies shrouded in secrecy.

His final public appearance occurred in September 2023 during the 11th Annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy in New York, where he and his spouse, Marilyn Simons, were honored with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy.

Jim Simons

While Marilyn was credited as the driving force behind the Simons Foundation, established in 1994, Jim increasingly engaged in philanthropic endeavors in his later years.

Retiring from Renaissance leadership in 2010, the couple directed over $6 billion through their foundation, ranking as America’s sixth-most philanthropic donors, per Forbes. The foundation primarily focuses on education, mathematics, and scientific research.

Simons’ contributions extended to Stony Brook University, where he pledged $500 million—the second-largest donation to a public college—to bolster its programs.

Moreover, Simons and Marilyn spearheaded initiatives like Math for America, offering stipends for STEM educators in New York City, and supported cancer and autism research, exemplifying their commitment to scientific advancement and education.

The Simons Observatory in Chile received substantial funding, exemplifying their dedication to unraveling cosmic mysteries. Simons, expressing his intellectual curiosity, pondered the origins of the universe and eagerly awaited insights from the observatory’s endeavors.

Nate O'Hara
Nathan is a seasoned commerce writer with a passion for unraveling the intricacies of the business world and distilling them into engaging narratives. During his academic journey, he delved deep into subjects like economics, marketing, and entrepreneurship, honing his analytical skills and developing a keen understanding of market dynamics.