Kenneth C. Griffin ’89: Investor and Philanthropist

Long before the days of shiny smartphones or high-speed wifi, Kenneth C. Griffin ’89 was trading bonds from his Cabot House dorm room between economics classes.

It was 1987 and one of the only ways to receive updated portfolio information was by setting up a satellite dish to receive stock quotes. Griffin had convinced Cabot maintenance to rig a dish on the roof, winding cables through a window and elevator shaft, down a hall, and into his second floor dorm room.

The entrepreneurial student also raised $265,000 from family members and friends to finance the investment scheme.

Although his fellow Cabot residents might have deemed the endeavor a bit unusual, Griffin said it was not all that uncommon.

“The great thing about Harvard is there’s such diversity in the student body and so many students are doing really fascinating and interesting things,” Griffin said. “In the context of Harvard, this story wasn’t exceptional.”

Although Griffin downplays the Cabot investment scheme, he has since received widespread acclaim for his exceptional track record as a hedge fund manager.

Griffin is now the chief executive officer of his very own private equity firm, Citadel Capital, a company that oversees $19.6 billion in investments. In 2013, he was among the youngest members of Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans, holding his position at 103 with a net worth of $4.4 billion.

Earlier this year, Griffin gave a $150 million gift to Harvard—the largest single gift in the history of the College.

Griffin now says the three years he spent at Harvard helped foster his passion for investment and commitment to philanthropy

ALL BUSINESS AT HARVARD

Today, as entrepreneurial tech geeks have entered the national spotlight through hit blockbuster films and HBO series, Griffin appears to exemplify one of those success stories.

One of his freshman year roommates, George J. Juang ’90, recalled how he immediately realized that Griffin possessed an acute knowledge of management and economics.

“He was already very intense and a savvy businessman as a freshman,” Juang said.

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