SkyBridge Founder's Career Shows Success Doesn't Require Swagger

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In April SkyBridge Capital, a venture-style firm that backs new and emerging hedge fund managers, erupted into the limelight by quadrupling in size with the purchase of three alternative investment businesses from Citigroup. Its culture and the style of its founder, Anthony Scaramucci, suggest a path to success that contrasts sharply with the usual Wall Street swagger.

Rather than feeling "emboldened" that his firm survived the financial crisis, Scaramucci says he's still "very frightened." There's a lesson in that, he told FINAlternatives:

"The doctrine of infallibility will sink you. In 1998, Lehman survived the Russian ruble crisis, so they thought they could survive anything."

But while Scaramucci admits to waking up every morning worrying about his firm, instead of sapping his strength, he feeds on this fear, constantly analyzing why some firms - and some people - succeed while others fail.

"When you have a star system, you always have a falling star," he says. "You need to build a system that creates purpose. It is very difficult to infuse a purpose in a for profit business...but some firms, like Goldman Sachs, have this right."

In his newly released book, Good-bye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul, he credits Goldman's success to "its ability to create a one firm, one organization ethos." He says he's tried to copy many aspects of Goldman culture in SkyBridge from its inception in 2005.

If You Meet Him...

Should you end up interviewing at SkyBridge, here's a few tidbits about the firm and Scaramucci, drawn from the FINAlternatives piece and a later interview he gave ClusterStock.

- He consciously adopts a high public profile, unlike most in the hedge fund world. One reflection of that is an annual conference in Las Vegas, called SALT, that discusses asset management but also includes "luminaries from the worlds of politics, economics, media and philanthropy." Former President Bill Clinton was one of the speakers at last month's event.

- As a teenager Scaramucci "drove a red Camero and knew every one of Tony Manero's disco dance moves," according to FINAlternatives.

- Lately he's advised filmmaker Oliver Stone on the Wall Street movie sequel, Money Never Sleeps, and even appears briefly in the film himself.

- He is co-chair of New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio's finance committee.

- A painting of boxing great Muhammad Ali hangs in his office.

- Although Scaramucci claims not to buy into the "Wall Street rat race," he does exploit one Wall Street convention: regularly catering in-office lunches for staff. "And it must be good," ClusterStock points out, "because he says it keeps people from leaving their desks, they stay to eat it."

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