Charles Payson Coleman III, known as Chase, is as close as one gets to American aristocracy. A descendent of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of New York, Coleman was raised in Glen Head, a posh enclave on New York's Long Island. He went to Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and then, like his father and grandfather, attended Williams College, where he played lacrosse. He graduated in 1997 and went to work as a technology analyst for Julian Robertson, a godfather of the hedge-fund industry, at Tiger Management LLC, Bloomberg Markets reports in its February issue.
Coleman had a connection at Tiger. He had grown up with Robertson's son, Spencer, who lived in nearby Locust Valley.
Soon after Robertson, 79, closed his fund in 2000, he handed his son's former playmate more than $25 million to manage. Coleman was 25 at the time. That made him one of at least 30 so-called Tiger cubs -- fund managers who are Tiger Management alumni. There are another 40-odd so-called Tiger seeds -- funds backed by Robertson dollars.
Coleman and his Tiger Global LP, along with a half dozen others, are both.
Chase Coleman has been handed a lot in his life, and he's made good with the gifts. He took his Robertson stake and built a $10 billion firm, partly by investing in Internet companies before they sold shares to the public. These days, he owns, among other things, a stake of undisclosed size in social networking phenomenon Facebook Inc. and another in Zynga Inc., creator of the Mafia Wars and FarmVille online games.
Zynga raised more than $1 billion in a Dec. 15 initial public offering.
Coleman's flagship $6 billion Tiger Global fund returned 45 percent in the first 10 months of 2011, putting it at the top of the Bloomberg Markets list of the 100 best-performing hedge funds managing $1 billion or more. He manages the fund with Feroz Dewan, a Princeton University-educated engineer and mathematician.
"I have known Chase since he was a small boy," Robertson wrote in a statement. "He's a great competitor and an immensely gifted portfolio manager. I would always bet on Chase."
Joining the Tiger team takes more than good breeding and connections. Robertson used to give prospective hires a written test to gauge their intelligence, competitiveness and ability to work on a team. Tiger Management, which still exists to invest money for Robertson's family and a few outsiders, uses a similar exam to find managers to seed, a person familiar with the test says.
Tiger cubs learned at the right hand of Robertson, who vetted almost every idea before it became a trade, the person says. Robertson prized on-site research and once sent a commodity analyst to Brazil to estimate the number of coffee bushes under cultivation in the eastern state of Bahia before betting that the commodity's price would decline.
Most of the Tiger seeds are housed in Tiger Management's offices on the 47th and 48th floors of 101 Park Ave. in midtown Manhattan. Robertson is the landlord, charging each fund rent. He also takes an ownership stake, which entitles him to a cut of the hefty fees that hedge-fund managers charge investors.
Managers of the seed funds meet periodically to discuss ideas, says a person familiar with the meetings. Robertson also encourages managers to share their wealth through the Tiger Foundation, which gives money to organizations helping needy families in New York.