Jacob Gottlieb, MD, CFA, PRMIA, is managing partner and chief investment officer at Visium Asset Management. Visium, an alternative investment hedge fund, “seeks to achieve consistent, positive absolute returns by investing in a variety of industry sectors”, as stated in a company brochure.
Jacob Gottlieb founded Visium Asset Management in 2005 after 5 years building Balyasny Asset Management. At its peak in 2016, the company was an $8 billion hedge fund giant with a team of 170 employees, each of whom was carefully chosen and trained in investment process established under Gottlieb’s leadership.
As the CIO of Visium, Gottlieb managed to keep a relatively low public profile until June of 2016, when the firm was shaken by scandal. Following a lengthy investigation, three of Visium’s former employees were found guilty of bond mis-marking and insider trading and sentenced to imprisonment (Sanjay Valvani committed suicide, as an alternative to jail time).
After all the stones were turned and the SEC press release finalizing the investigation was just released, the firm’s CIO (Gottlieb) was never even accused of any wrongdoing. In fact, Gottlieb is currently the only key executive still standing. This is a significant fact, given that the government spent years carefully examining the firm. The hedge fund has been charged with insider trading and inflation of fund returns as a result of the actions of three rogue employees.
It is ironic that the actions of three rogue employees were enough to tarnish the reputation of the entire Visium operation, which otherwise upheld a sound character recognized throughout the industry. Following the dismantling of Visium’s staff, most of its past teammembers went on to pursue new opportunities. Visium’s former senior analyst of six years, Neetu Dhaliwal, joined Hillary Clinton’s Hillary for America campaign in 2016. Another core member of Visium’s team was Ron Belldegrun, who is the son of Kite Pharma CEO and Teva board member, Dr. Arie Belldegrun.
Following his departure from Visium, Belldegrun founded Consumer Health Ventures, a healthcare start-up that focuses on building and investing in consumer health companies. Finally, Visium’s former partner and portfolio manager, Joshua Brown (also Valvani’s partner), is currently a senior vice president at Paulson & Co., a $9 billion hedge fund.
Also, some of Visium’s former portfolio managers were recruited by AllianceBernstein Holding, LP, a leading investment management and research firm, where their unit manages $1 billion and made an 11% return in 2017.
Surrounding himself ‘by the right people’ has always been one of Gottlieb’s priorities. When asked about how he brings ideas to life, he states, “Analyze, read, discuss internally, analyze again, find good people, talk to them, bring in the right people, give them autonomy and resources to succeed.” “Always work with the best people,” is his answer when asked about what advice he would give to his younger self. While that was true for the vast majority of the over 170 employees of Visium, a couple of issues led to the demise of the firm.
Roberto Finzi, who represented Visium CEO Jacob Gottlieb, commented “Dr. Gottlieb lost the most with Visium’s closure – nevertheless, he spent the last two years working tirelessly and without management fees to wind down the funds while protecting investor capital. He has glad to have this matter resolved and looks forward to his next endeavor.”