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Jeff Tarrant, Hedge Fund Pioneer, Dies

The famed hedge fund investor, whose firm bet Warren Buffett that hedge funds would outperform the stock market, has lost his battle with brain cancer.

Jeffrey Tarrant, the co-founder of hedge fund investment firm Protégé Partners – the firm that famously made a million-dollar bet that hedge funds would outperform the stock market – has died at 63, according to a statement from Protégé.

Tarrant died of a brain tumor at his home in Bridgehampton on August 5, according to the statement. 

Tarrant was an early investor in many now-famous hedge funds, seeding managers like York Capital’s Jamie Dinan and Tudor Investment Corp.’s Paul Tudor Jones while also investing in Renaissance Technologies’ legendary Medallion Fund in its early days. He co-founded Protégé in 2002 with Ted Seides to manage pools of capital that invested in emerging hedge fund managers. He also created Altvest, the hedge fund industry’s first internet-based commercial database and analytics systems.

More recently, Tarrant founded MOV37 to invest in emerging managers that employed machine learning and other autonomous learning techniques.  Tarrant earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Tarrant gained national fame — or notoriety — when he and Seides, his then-partner at Protégé, bet Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett in 2008 that a portfolio of hedge funds would outperform the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index over the next ten years. The wager was for $1 million, to go to the winner’s charity of choice. 

The men ultimately invested the pot in Berkshire Hathaway’s B shares while waiting for the bet to play out, and the original cash pile appreciated to $2.27 million. Buffett donated the proceeds to Girls Inc., a girls’ education charity in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“Jeff had gift for thinking ahead of industry trends and had an irrepressible entrepreneurial spirit,” said Seides in an statement to Institutional Investor. “From the first database for hedge funds, early seeding of managers and shorting credit and subprime before the financial crisis, to his most recent passion for machine learning, Jeff held forward-thinking original ideas and a drive to bring them to fruition. We shared a great ride together.”

Tarrant is survived by his two daughters and two sisters. 

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