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Gross Gets Personal: ‘I Just Wanted to Run Money and Be Famous’

At Pimco, Bill Gross built a reputation as the world’s best bond trader. Now, at Janus Capital, he’s managing a much smaller fund—all while being measured against his younger self.
‘I don’t want to be a guy who hung on and hung on,’ says Gross.

‘I don’t want to be a guy who hung on and hung on,’ says Gross.

Photo illustration: Justin Metz
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Bill Gross is here for his favorite doughnut, the cake one with coconut frosting, but he’s not going to get it, not today. Jacketless under the Southern California sun, Gross ducks beneath the black umbrellas outside Rose Bakery Café, south of Malibu, looking every bit the merry old bond king. A royal-blue tie, with a cheerful pattern of white birds, is draped around his open collar like a Renaissance chain of office. His Mercedes sits hard by.

But make no mistake: This Bill Gross, the one eying the French crullers, isn’t that Bill Gross, the one who bent markets to his will at Pacific Investment Management Co., who built one of the most enduring track records in bond management history, who moved markets with his pronouncements. That old Gross wanted fame more than power and riches, and he wanted it with a hot eagerness that made enemies. By the time Pimco cast him out, he was considered by colleagues—there’s no way to sugarcoat this—to be a world-class jerk who’d lost his touch.