Few names in the world of investments are as well-known as that of Kenneth Griffin’s, founder and CEO of Chicago-based investment firm Citadel. Born on October 15, 1968 in Daytona Beach, Florida and a Harvard University graduate he has recently landed at number 89 on Forbes’ 400 Richest Americans List and has a reputation for being one of the most philanthropic donors in the world, and he’s even moved beyond his traditional formula into more modern investments recently.
He has contributed to a variety of organizations, including a hefty $150 million to Harvard for student’s financial aid, $10 million to the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Center and $16 million to Children’s Memorial Hospital.
When asked about his political views Griffin described himself as a “Reagan Republican” who has publicly criticized the Obama administration, saying, “government being involved in picking winners and losers invariably leads to a loss of economic freedom and encourages corruption.” He has definitely put his money where his mouth is by offering generous donations to the Republican party, including a $2.5 million check to Illinois GOP Governor candidate Bruce Rauner in an attempt to help him defeat Democratic Governor Pat Quinn.
He has also shown support for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and ex-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. According to Twitter, he is a supporter of Republican causes such as Restore Our Future, Americans for Prosperity, Republican Governors Association and American Crossroads, donating more than $2 million to these organizations.
With an estimated net worth of $5.5 billion Griffin’s assets include real estate in Florida and Hawaii as well as a penthouse in Chicago. He began his career in investment while still in college in the 1980s and used a mere $265,000 to invest in the market as it was crashing in 1987, allowing him to make a major profit off of shorting.
His success caught the attention of Glenwood Capital founder Frank C. Meyer who provided $1 million for him to invest. Griffin made Meyer a 70% return on investment and drastically exceeded his expectations; Meyer helped him to fund the launching of Citadel in 1990 as a result.
Griffin has a reputation of being shy and keeps his private life out of the spotlight as much as possible. The first in-depth write-up about him in 2001 was a feature piece on the front cover of Institutional Investor magazine that included the tagline “Just 32, he wants to run the world’s biggest and best hedge fund. He’s nearly there.” He was included on the most influential people in the world of finance by CFO Magazine’s Global 100 in 2002.
Under his leadership Citadel has over $24 billion in assets and remains one of the world’s largest hedge funds. Like its famous leader the company has also received a reputation for contributing to worthy causes in the community by partnering with various cultural, educational and civic organizations. The company has over 1,150 employees globally with a flagship in the Citadel Center in the heart of downtown Chicago.