Six Other Jerks Whose Stocks Julian Robertson Wouldn’t Buy

Six Other Jerks Whose Stocks Julian Robertson Wouldn’t Buy

Julian Robertson, the hedge fund billionaire, told CNBC that he sold all of his Apple holdings after discovering that Steve Jobs was a “really awful” person through Walter Isaacson’s biography. According to Robertson, this is because mean people can’t build enduringly successful companies. Here are some other business founders whose companies Robertson probably wouldn’t want to own:

1. Henry Clay Frick, United States Steel Corp.

Frick was called one of the “worst American CEOs of all time” by Portfolio magazine. One reason was that his vigorous response to the Homestead Strike of 1892 led to the deaths of 16 people. On the other hand, the company he helped found — U.S. Steel — remains the country’s largest producer, as well as the namesake of the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite the contraction of the American steel industry over the past 30 years.2. Henry Ford, Ford Motor Corp.

While Ford is admired for paying his workers well and for building an experimental city in Brazil, he was also a rabid anti-Semite who popularized a minor piece of Russian propaganda and “inspired” Adolf Hitler. His car company is still thriving, however, and managed to avoid the bailouts endured by General Motors and Chrysler.

3. Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA

In his youth, Kamprad was an active member of Sweden’s fascist movement and was enthusiastic about recruiting new members. Later in life, the company he controlled took advantage of forced labor in East German prison camps as a cost-savings measure. Yet Kamprad is still one of the world’s richest men, and his company remains the world’s biggest home-furnishings retailer. (Fortunately for Robertson, IKEA is privately held, so he could never have been foolishly tempted to buy any shares.)

4. Thomas J. Watson, International Business Machines Corp.

According to investigative journalist Edwin Black, Watson may have been directly involved in IBM’s collaboration with the Nazi regime during the Holocaust. On the other hand, the company is now worth $200 billion.

5. Cecil Rhodes, De Beers

A major advocate of British subjugation of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, the founder of the Rhodes scholarship was also the man behind the De Beers diamond mines. Today, De Beers continues to control about 40 percent of the world’s supply of raw diamonds and now has retail outlets selling jewelry.

6. Republic of Siena, Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena

No single individual created this bank, which was established in 1472 by the Italian city-state. However, the founders hoped that it, like the sister institutions that followed it across Europe, would displace Jewish moneylenders. Considered the oldest operating bank in the world, Monte Dei Paschi has lately been embroiled in a scandal over hiding losses from the financial crisis.

(Matthew C. Klein is a writer for Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter.)

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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