Leon Cooperman: Billionaire hedge funder on giving it all away

July 15, 2016

I want to share this interview with billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman via Bloomberg podcast.

He’s one of those fellows cut from a similar cloth as Warren Buffett.

Lives modestly, loves what he does, is donating all his wealth to charity. He even mentions Buffett many times in this audio.

Discovery
I first heard of Leon only yesterday.

For some reason, I wanted the exact Warren Buffett quote on not criticizing others. While searching that, I ran into an article on Leon quoting Buffett.

It was pleasant to hear another rich guy who is giving all his money away and not just hoarding it.

Fiction
In movies, hedge fund managers are usually the bad guys.

I watched Get Hard last nite, the movie with Kevin Hart & Will Ferrell. The story starts with Ferrell being indicted for some illegal hedge fund scheme. The plot is centered around greedy rich white people wanting to get richer vs working class poor minorities.

I noticed in the credits that the movie was made by the very funny Adam Mckay, frequent Will Ferrel collaborator. Made such movies as Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, The Other Guys, and The Big Short.

The latter two movies are also about evil rich white billionaires.

The Other Guys has a multi-billionaire committing crimes, in order to make more money.

The Big Short is based on the book by Michael Lewis, about the collapse of the real estate bubble, and how super rich hedge fund guys and corporations screwed regular working class folks and the world economy.

So, there is a common theme emerging in these three movies. And Adam is not wrong in pointing that out, because I suspect there are plenty of greedy folks out there who live a cutthroat life.

Reality
So, it’s fun to find out that there are also uber rich folks in real life like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Leon Cooperman, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Tim Cook, and Mark Zuckerberg who are not like the evil rich portrayed in movies.

So far, 142 of the richest billionaires in the world have signed up for The Giving Pledge, to donate at least 50% of their wealth to charity. Many will give it all away. The total pledged count is around $365 billion and growing.

If this group were a country, ranked by GDP, they would be listed at #31 out of 188 countries. Said another way, there are 157 countries in the world with less wealth than the amount this group has decided to give away.

Wrote one of the billionaire pledgers:

“My choice was to ruin my son’s life by giving him money or giving 90+% to charity. Not much of a choice.” – Manoj Bhargava (founder of 5-Hour energy)

This is good news for the rest of us.

Resources:
The Giving Pledge

Leon’s thoughts on giving back (4:44min mark)