For the past two days we’ve been following 50 Cent’s penny stock pump scheme with curiosity. This reminded us of another rapper, LL Cool J, who is a much better promoter than 50 Cent. LL Cool J also didn’t give the impression that he is manipulating anything. What he did was more remarkable. LL Cool J helped launch Cedarview Capital, a $150 million hedge fund that returned 95% in 2009 and 23% during the first 9 months of 2010.
Katherine Burton’s “Hedge Hunters” tells the story of Cedarview Capital and LL Cool J in detail. Cedarview’s founder Jeff Schachter was traveling in the first class from Los Angeles, and a black guy with T-shirts and basketball shorts was sitting next to him. He told Schachter that his name is Todd Smith and he is in the music business under the name LL Cool J. Here is an excerpt from the book:
“Oh, is that the name of your band?” Schachter asked. Schachter clearly wasn’t hip to hip-hop, but LL was completely conversant in the language of Schachter’s world of bonds. “I invest only in AAA munis. I look at duration and I don’t reach for yield,” he told Schachter. In the course of the flight, they discovered they were both reading the same book, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, a 1937 classic that lays out thirteen steps for achieving success based on interviews with the likes of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Charles Schwab. Later in the flight, LL pulled out from his carry-on bag a copy of Benjamin Graham and David Dodd’s Security Analysis, the bible of value investing.
The two men exchanged cards, and Schachter called the rap artist a few weeks later, proposing that he and Weinstein take him to dinner. LL suggested the fancy kosher restaurant Box Tree, in midtown Manhattan.
Although they sat in a quiet corner, the foursome (LL had brought along his assistant) attracted a bit of attention as they discussed a range of topics from hedge funds to philanthropy. It was understandable. “You have two Jewish-looking guys sitting with two rappers,” says Schachter. The scene was intriguing enough to catch the eye of the gentleman at a neighboring table, who was an acquaintance of the managers-to-be and a member of a wealthy family that invests more than $1 billion in hedge funds. That gentleman, who invested in Cedarview Capital from day one, is now one of its largest clients.