Here’s a list of some of the world’s greatest investors and how they made their wealth.
 Carl Icahn
Carl Icahn is an American business tycoon, activist investor and philanthropist. With a self made net worth of US $16.9 billion, he is regarded as the greatest corporate investor and an epitome of the American dream. He is founder and chairman of Icahn Enterprises L.P., owning 90% stake of the diversified conglomerate based in New York. Born in 1936 and brought up in New York, Icahn resembled a typical New York youth, clever and street smart. He attended Princeton University to graduate in arts and went on to study medicine at New York University. After dropping med school, he began his career on Wall Street as a stockbroker at the age of 25. By 1968 he formed Icahn and Co., a securities firm that centered on Risk Arbitrage, an event driven investing strategy often used by Hedge Funds, and options trading through which he made his first US $1 million.
Later using strategies like Creepy Tender Offers, an approach to control companies by acquiring target shares in open market, and by getting involved in numerous proxy fights, he began greenmailing various individual companies. He rightly gained the tag of “corporate raider” after his hostile takeover of TWA, a major American airline company of the time. By asset striping of TWA – systematically selling assets to repay debt used to purchase the company – Icahn made his first and most crucial fortune of US $469 million. With sold assets and resultant debt of US $540 million, TWA was struck with a double whammy. Carl Icahn went on to acquire management influence over companies to operate them to multiply his wealth. His approach to corporate governance, often not in best interest of shareholders, made him the greatest lobbyist of the time. His portfolio featured some of the biggest companies of US like the RJR Nabisco, Phillip Petroleum, Western Union, Viacom, US Steel, Marvel Comics and others.
In Jan 2007, Icahn sent Motorola a notice to press for a seat on board owing to his 33.5 million shares of the company. In following May he was denied in the elections by majority of stockholders. To expand his treasure even more Carl showed interest in taking over Yahoo! and selling it to Microsoft. By this time he already had secured a billionaire status. He made another whopping US $1 billion by selling his casino holdings in Las Vegas, Nevada. In subsequent year, the New Yorker disclosed an ownership of 8.5% (soon increased to 13.22%) of outstanding shares of BEA Systems, a business software company. Pushing his agenda forward, he suggested the management to put the company for sale. Oracle Corporation later bought BEA Systems in Jan 2008.
The most legendary trade by Carl Icahn (or by anyone!) is of Netflix stock. He purchased US $321 million worth of shares of online television provider. Selling around half of those he brought for US $850 million. The other half was sold in June 2015 succeeding another US $1 billion in his pockets. This trade is recognized as the most successful trade ever in history.
Icahn was the outspoken advocate of his stock pick – Apple in mid 2013. Through claims that the tech giant’s stock was vastly undervalued and public endorsement of the company, he raised Apple’s share price over 3%. The Jewish billionaire was last in news after shedding iPhone makers stock, due to concerns with China, to make a colossal US $2 billion.
 David Einhorn
David Einhorn, born in 1968, with a net worth of US $1.76 billion is one of the youngest American billionaire Hedge Fund manager. He is co-founder and president of Greenlight Capital, a long-short value oriented investment fund. Since its inception, in May 1996, it has returned 1902% cumulative or 16.5% annualized to its investors. As of 2014, Greenlight Capital has US $10 billion worth of assets under management.
David Einhorn is widely known for pressing incompetent or fraudulent companies by short selling their stock and making public remarks of disapproval.
In May 2002, Einhorn recommended shorting stocks of Allied Capital, a mid-cap financial company. Due to his public announcement the stocks opened down 20% and led to a heated debate. Einhorn was alleged to be engaged in market manipulation by Allied. Later after investigation by SEC, it was found that Allied Capital breached security laws relating to accounting and valuation of illiquid assets. In May 2007, Einhorn wrote a book called “Fooling Some of the People All of the Time: A Long Short Story” centering on this issue. The book was a wide success and featured the whole story including – Allied management’s made up numbers fed to the press, illegal access to Einhorn’s private mobile data, and other stunts pulled by Allied Capital. Einhorn donated all of the profits made from the book and his respective short position and stated the purpose of the book was to “expose(s) the grim realities of unchecked corporate misconduct by a bad company and the failures of proper regulatory oversight.” Allied Capital filed for bankruptcy in Sept 2008.
Einhorn is widely renowned and also one of my top investor pick for his short position of Lehman Brothers in July 2007. He reasoned and even publicly announced his position by pointing out company’s dubious accounting practices. Lehman later declared bankruptcy in Sept 2008.
After a bad year in 2015, Einhorn has now acquired position in Apple, Yahoo, pharmaceutical giant Mylan, EOAN – a German electrical utility company, and several other western companies. Einhorn is a critic of using indices for picking companies in his portfolio and prefers individual stock selection. Einhorn, with his natural instinct to find and pin down fraudulent companies, is in his own sense a vigilante like Batman of the game.
 George Soros
George Soros is a Hungarian-American business magnate, investor and humanitarian. He was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1930 amidst the rise of Nazi Germany, and was no stranger to adversities of life. After World War II, he fled the communist dominated Hungary in 1947 and made his way to England to study philosophy at London School of Economics. After graduating he struggled to find a satisfactory job. Having performed many jobs, the whizz-kid in him decided to write to every managing director of every Merchant Bank in London and eventually landed an entry level job at Singer and Friedlander. He worked as a clerk and soon moved his way up to the arbitrage department. Then in 1956 Soros moved to United States to work at a brokerage house, F.M. Mayer in New York. This was the commencement of Soros’ journey from a philosophy scholar to a macro investing pundit.
Moving his way up the ladder, he moved to Wertheim & Co. as analyst of European Securities, being popular with American investors due to the creation of Common Market in 1959. Saving US $500,000, Soros went back to London School of Economics to study Philosophy. During that time in England, he developed his theory of reflexivity. Implementing it in context of finance, he observed that an investors’ and traders’ bias plays a pivotal role in determining the market prices. After that he went back to U.S. to start trading again as vice president of a management fund company based in New York, while his major focus was on revision of his philosophy dissertation.
In 1970, Soros founded Soros Management Fund (later Quantum Fund as iteration) and became its chairman. He, along with Jim Rogers and other known partners, went on to make high returns on their investors’ money. George Soros reinforced his public image as, “The Man Who Broke The Bank of England” after taking short position in UK pound of worth US $10 billion during 1992 Black Wednesday, UK’s Currency Crisis. He profited US $1 billion from his prediction of UK pound’s devaluation.
With a “Fight or Flight” attitude, Soros took his Hedge Fund returns through the roof. His current net worth is estimated US $24.9 billion. From the start of this century, George Soros has donated more than US $11 billion through his grant. The billionaire got back to trading in 2016 after a long time-out. As of now, Soros’ latest big bets are gold and US Democratic Party’s presidential election nominee Hilary Clinton.
 Marc Faber
One of the most well known investor with unknown net worth, Marc Faber has shows highest order of market prediction qualities around the world. He earned his Ph.D in Economics from University of Zurich. He is the founder and director of Marc Faber Ltd., investment advisory and fund management firm. He also serves as director and or advisor to a number of investment firms including the Iconoclastic International Fund, The Baring Chrysalis Fund, The Overlook Partners’ Fund and others that focus on Emerging and Frontier Markets. Marc Faber is the author of The Gloom Boom Doom Report, an elite financial publication for institutional investors and high net worth individuals around the globe.
He is known for his assertive and opinionated charisma. Throughout his career he has numerously forecasted the international markets and proved himself as the greatest Contrarian Bearish Investor. Faber has earned much respect from his clients for being right big time as well as being wrong by accepting his errors in judgment. His major breakthrough was the champion prediction of 1987 Black Monday Crash, where he advised his clients to get out of the market. However, unlike his persona, he modestly accepted that there was a bit of luck involved. He has predicted upsurge of oil, gold, other commodities and emerging markets especially China through his book: Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s Age of Discovery. Over the years, Faber has developed a knack for making a profit in financial crisis. His predictions include decline in US dollar since 2002, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe due to near zero interest rates, and hike in Gold prices in 2015.
Since his marriage to a Thai national, the Swiss investor has moved to Thailand. Faber believes that risk is the very fabric of life and continues to yearn for it. Dr. Faber widely known Dr. Doom feels relatable to Socrates saying, “I know that I am intelligent, because I know that I know nothing.” Being skeptic of institutions and authority, Marc states that now only few investments are investable, excluding common land and real estate in emerging markets like Russia, Uruguay, and Paraguay.
 RAY DALIO
Raymond “Ray” Dalio, born on 8 August 1948, is an American businessman, and founder and Chief Investment Officer of the world’s largest Hedge Fund Bridgewater Associates, with $154 billion under management. With net worth of $15.6 billion, Ray Dalio is 48th richest person of the world (Source: Forbes Magazine 2015).
After receiving Bachelor of Science in Finance, Ray Dalio went to Harvard Business School for earn his MBA. He then went to work at New York Stock Exchange. Later after working as a futures trader at Shearson Hayden Store, in 1975 Dalio founded Bridgewater Associates. It launched its flagship fund Pure Alpha in 1989, made to dynamically reduce risk by diversification and active management. In 2006, the fund reached its maximum level and was closed to new investors. Bridgewater also released its flagship product/service as “Daily Observations”, a white paper subscription. It is considered to be the most widely forwarded piece of market information in the industry and is read by leaders of central banks, top officers of institutional investors and also the US President Barack Obama.
The essence of the workplace is best explained by Ray Dalio himself:
“…To foster this thinking and innovation, we maintain an environment of radical openness, even though that honesty can be difficult and uncomfortable. At Bridgewater each individual has the right and the obligation to ensure that what they do and what we do collectively in pursuit of excellence makes sense to them. Everyone is encouraged to be both assertive and open-minded in order to build their understanding and discover their best path. The types of disagreements and mistakes that are typically discouraged elsewhere are expected at Bridgewater because they are the fuel for the learning that helps us maximize the utilization of our potential. It is through this unique culture that we have produced the meaningful work and meaningful relationships that those who work here and our clients have come to expect…”
Ray Dalio predicted the global financial crisis of 2008 in 2007 and published an essay “How the Economic Machine Works; A Template for Understanding What is Happening Now” explaining his findings. He also self published a philosophical 123 paged volume called “Principles” highlighting his investment, corporate management, and life principles. In 2013, he also shared his investment secrets through a YouTube video, which since has been viewed over 2.7 million times. Besides being the Chairman of the best hedge fund in the world, Ray Dalio, along with his wife Barbara Dalio, has pledged to donate more than half of his life savings to The Giving Pledge, a philanthropic campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Written by Abhimanyu Hans