Legendary value investor John Anthony Griffin tells up-and-coming investors to “build the ark on their sunny days,” passing on sage advice from Julian Robertson—his mentor and former boss.
Griffin founded the hedge fund Blue Ridge Capital Management in 1996. Griffin, who frequently teaches at some of the most respected U.S. colleges, relishes the role of teacher just as much as the role of the hedge fund manager.
- John Griffin founded Blue Ridge Capital in 1996, which reached upwards of $12 billion in assets under management at its peak in 2013.
- Griffin closed the fund in 2017, citing the hedge fund industry as a “humbling business.” Blue Ridge Capital employed a long-short strategy.
- Griffin worked alongside famed investor and founder of Tiger Management Corp. Julian Robertson and considered one of the “Tiger Cubs.”
- His philanthropic mission is to fight poverty in New York City.
- Griffin serves as a visiting professor at his alma mater, the University of Virginia, and an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.
Early Life and Education
Born in 1963, John Griffin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1985. In 1990, he earned an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Before completing graduate school, Griffin worked as a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley Merchant Banking Group from 1985 through 1987. He then partnered with investing titan Julian Robertson, founder of Tiger Management Corp.
Along with Griffin, Robertson employed and taught Lawrence Bowman, Lee Ainslie, Tom Brown, Paul Spieldenner, Andreas Halvorsen, and Steven Mandel—all of whom started their own funds. The group is colloquially known as the “Tiger Cubs.”
John Griffin acted as president at Tiger Management from 1993 until 1996. In addition to his duties as president, Griffin served as a portfolio manager for Tiger Management from 1994 through 1996.
The average annual return of Blue Ridge Capital’s return over the two decades it operated.
In 1996, Griffin founded Blue Ridge Capital Management. Blue Ridge is best known for its long-short strategy, the practice of complementing stock purchases with corresponding short positions. The strategy is considered risky by some, but its practitioners argue it is an effective way to boost returns.
Most value funds only invest in an asset when it is considered undervalued, while overvalued funds are ignored. However, Griffin believes that overvalued assets can also be shorted to make returns.
The long-short strategy worked extremely well for Griffin in the run-up to the Great Recession. He reportedly pocketed more than $620 million, and Blue Ridge generated a net return of 65% in 2007. The fund reached its height in assets under management (AUM) in 2013 at $12 billion.
Wealth and Philanthropy
There are no reliable estimates of John Griffin’s net worth after his monstrous 2005 and 2007 earnings. His hedge fund managed more than $6 billion in assets before closing at the end of 2017. It is unknown how much of that belongs to Griffin or how much income he earned along the way. Griffin closed the fund, citing the industry as being a “humbling business.”
The price John Griffin paid for his New York City townhome. It was the highest price paid for a residential townhome in the city as of 2019.
Griffin enjoys headlining hedge fund and value symposiums, often bringing along other Tiger Cubs to speak to large audiences of eager investors. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and an adjunct professor of finance at Columbia Business School. He has also created or served on several foundations to help nonprofits and investors, including the Blue Ridge Foundation, the Tiger Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, and the Julian. H. Robertson Foundation.
Griffin is particularly focused on inner-city poverty in his hometown of New York City. He is the founding chair and a board member of iMentor, a relationship development program for students in low-income areas.
John and his wife, Amy, founded the John & Amy Griffin Foundation to further his mission of fighting poverty in New York. In addition to his foundation, John is a board member for the Blue Ridge Foundation of New York, with a mirroring mission.
The Griffins have also gifted millions to their alma mater, the University of Virginia, and contributed to K-12 education reforms.
In terms of a lasting investment influence, John Griffin is revered for his rigid and thorough fundamental research, which includes a laundry list of variables to analyze. His long-short strategies are a testament to his determination to find returns regardless of the market conditions. According to Griffin, “The future is uncertain; it is always a difficult time to invest.”
In addition to his marked successes, Blue Ridge also laid out a series of “top reads” for mimicking investors across four broad categories: behavioral finance, analytics, economic indicators, and historical parallels.
What happened to Blue Ridge Capital?
Blue Ridge Capital founder and CEO John Griffin terminated the fund’s operations in 2017.
How old is John Griffin Blue Ridge?
Hedge fund expert John A. Griffin was born in 1963.
How did John Griffin make his money?
Although successful in his role as President of Tiger Management, John Griffin made his fortune operating Blue Ridge Capital (closed in 2017), a wildly successful hedge fund that managed more than $12 billion in assets when active.
The Bottom Line
John Griffin, the founder of former hedge fund Blue Ridge Capital, is an aggressive value investor, who rarely tolerates sitting on the sidelines. Mentored by billionaire hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, Griffin earned his seat as one of America’s most successful hedge fund managers, overseeing $12 billion in assets at the peak of operations. Post Blue Ridge, John Griffin remains committed to his passion: combating inner-city poverty and promoting quality education. Turning purpose into action, he shares his expertise in the academic arena, inspiring future generations of financial professionals.