Renaissance Partner Airs Battle With Mercer Over TrumpBy
Magerman protests Mercer’s support for Trump as harmful
Scientist says he may be fired for speaking out about his boss
A Renaissance Technologies partner went public with his strong objections to top executive Robert Mercer’s support for President Donald Trump, telling the Wall Street Journal of a heated confrontation between the two men that may lead to his firing.
David Magerman has worked at the quantitative hedge fund for 20 years and helped design the firm’s trading systems. A registered Democrat, Magerman, 48, told the paper that Mercer’s “views show contempt for the social safety net that he doesn’t need, but many Americans do.”
Mercer, the co-chief executive officer, called Magerman earlier this month after the research scientist had complained to colleagues about his boss’s role as a prominent booster of Trump’s presidential campaign, the Journal reported Thursday. Mercer told Magerman that he had heard that the scientist had been calling him “a white supremacist,” according to the paper.
“Those weren’t my exact words,” Magerman said he told Mercer, the Journal reported. “If what you’re doing is harming the country, then you have to stop.”
Magerman told the paper he’s speaking only for himself and that there’s no sign of a broad insurrection at the firm. He said he was thinking about reaching out to Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, to develop proposals to reduce speculative trading, which could curtail Renaissance’s profits.
Renaissance Technologies, based in East Setauket, New York, was started in 1982 by Jim Simons, a former military code cracker. He stepped away from the business at the end of 2009 and Mercer and Peter Brown took over as co-CEOs in 2010. That this internal conflict has become public is highly unusual for the firm, which is known for its intense secrecy.
Magerman and a spokesman for Renaissance Technologies didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the Journal report.
Some Renaissance executives bristled at the attention brought to the firm by Mercer’s activities in support of Trump during the presidential race, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. In addition to providing funding to help when Trump’s candidacy was lagging, Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer advised the campaign. They suggested the installation of two confidantes, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, the paper said. Both now hold senior White House positions.
Renaissance runs the Medallion Fund -- perhaps the world’s greatest moneymaking machine. The fund is open only to Renaissance’s roughly 300 employees, as well as a select few individuals with deep-rooted connections to the firm. The fabled fund has produced about $55 billion in profits over the past 28 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Simons, who has been a prominent financial backer of Democrats, told the Journal in a statement, “I have worked closely with Bob Mercer since he joined our firm almost 25 years ago. While our politics differ dramatically, I have always thought him to be of impeccable character,” the Journal reported.
Magerman told the paper he hopes his public statements won’t cost him his job. But if he does get fired, he said he would have more time to devote to politics and other causes.
“I’d like to think I’m speaking out in a way that won’t risk my job, but it’s very possible they could fire me,” he told the Journal.