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The 2016 Hedge Fund Rising Stars: Eric Singer
Through his focus on small companies, the founder of hedge fund firm VIEX Capital Advisors drives change and returns.
Eric Singer, 42, has loved investing since his early teens. Singer got interested in the stock market when he started reading business publications, at about the time of his bar mitzvah. He grew up in New York, where his father taught economic history and his mother was a special-education teacher, and majored in history at Brandeis University near Boston. For Singer, history provided valuable tools for learning how to think about businesses and event outcomes. Outside of class he kept up with investing, discussing stocks and business with a close circle of like-minded friends. The group was further inspired by the fever of technology-focused entrepreneurship evident in Boston’s Route 128 area.
After graduation in 1995, Singer landed a job with Jonathan Steinberg at WisdomTree Asset Management in New York. Son of legendary corporate raider Saul Steinberg and husband of financial TV personality Maria Bartiromo, Steinberg now heads WisdomTree Investments, a $50 billion exchange-traded funds business. But in the late 1990s, he was doing more hedge fund investing. Working for Steinberg, Singer honed his skills as a stock picker. He gravitated toward smaller publicly listed companies, especially those in the tech sector and newer businesses without complex liabilities.
In 2014, Singer launched VIEX Capital Advisors, where he employs much the same strategy that he began to develop at WisdomTree. New York–based VIEX manages about $150 million in assets.
Early in his investment career, Singer started taking board seats at portfolio companies so he could better exert his influence. Currently, he’s a director of Numerex Corp., an Internet solutions provider headquartered in Atlanta; TigerLogic Corp., a Portland, Oregon–based software developer focused on online engagement; New York–based digital advertising firm YuMe; and IEC Electronics Corp. of Newark, New Jersey, a specialized electronics manufacturer. Key to Singer’s strategy is getting companies to focus on their strengths and maximize value for all shareholders through operating improvements as well as strategic mergers and acquisitions.
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