30 Under 30 In Finance 2021
Listmakers of the 30 Under 30 in Finance 2021 are rising stars at Wall Street’s top firms and entrepreneurs changing the way money works.
With the Coronavirus spreading like a wildfire through Asia and Europe in early February, Bharath Alamanda, 28, an analyst at Pershing Square Capital Management, was working remotely from his Manhattan apartment and building a financial model that plotted ways the $11 billion fund could protect itself from a market plunge.
He studied conventional hedges like bets against the S&P 500 Index, but the more he looked, the more Alamanda liked an unconventional trade that could benefit enormously from Wall Street’s complacency about the virus. He began digging into a swap contract called the CDX Investment Grade Index, which offered insurance on the default risk of 125 creditworthy companies in North America. Alamanda modeled the financial condition of each company within the index against various doomsday scenarios and found it was loaded with travel, retail and energy companies, vulnerable to lockdowns.
Because the contract was pricing record-low risk, Alamanda had identified a potent hedge. If the perceived credit risk of the overall index rose even modestly, Pershing Square would make multiples on its money. On February 21, with Italy entering into lockdowns, Pershing Square began to put the trade on. As Pershing Square founder William Ackman, Alamanda and the team legged into the trade, a few billion dollars at a time—$5 billion, then $10 billion, $20 billion and beyond—they wondered if they were too worried about the virus.
“It was definitely puzzling. It seemed like we were taking Covid more seriously than other investment firms,” Alamanda tells Forbes. “Once we started putting on the trade, our conviction increased.”
Ultimately, the pandemic hastened one of the quickest market declines in U.S. history. Pershing Square had spent $27 million to buy $70 billion in credit protection, and saw the trade yield a 100-fold return. By mid-March, the hedge had made $2.6 billion and Pershing Square began closing the trade to reinvest in the market. Alamanda, who was born Madras, India and grew up in Tampa Bay, Florida before matriculating to Princeton University, had helped put on one of Wall Street’s greatest trades.
He is one of the listmakers in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Finance for 2021, our list of the top young financial minds. They can be found these days at large buyout firms, industry-leading hedge funds and giant investment banks. Increasingly, listmakers also come from innovative financial technology companies that broaden access to credit, or trade in cryptocurrencies and build businesses on the blockchain.
In hedge funds, our list highlights Janice Zhang, 28, an analyst at Dan Loeb’s Third Point, who oversees a $3 billion portfolio of financial services investments, including notable positions such as Square, S&P Global, Black Knight Financial Services, London Stock Exchange and Visa. Alex Kimball, 29, a partner at Chase Coleman’s $41 billion (assets) Tiger Global, handles long/short equity investments, focusing on technology, internet, payments and aerospace companies.
After a decade of studying Mandarin, Jared Middleman, 29, a partner at Dragoneer Investment Group, helps spearhead the firm’s China investment strategy, including its large investments in Tencent Music and Bytedance. Domestically, Middleman has invested behind DoorDash and Spotify, and helped create its $600 million special purpose acquisition company, Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp.
Dealmakers on our list are from Wall Street’s biggest firms, and are working on some of the industry’s most profitable buyouts.
At Blackstone Group, Gabrielle Starfield, 29, is a rising star in the firm’s giant real estate private equity business. After working on some of the firm’s most notable recent deals like the $14.6 billion recapitalization of medical office operator BioRealty, Starfield was given the task of overseeing retail acquisitions for the firm as it deploys capital in the sector in the wake of Covid-19. James Kim, 29, a principal at BC Partners, was instrumental in the firm’s initial public offering of Chewy in July 2019, and serves as a board member of the $28 billion company, which has turned into one of the most lucrative private equity deals ever.
Some listmakers are helping giant firms reposition their businesses, or are bringing institutional capital to new communities.
Stephan Lambert, 29, a vice president of firmwide strategy at Goldman Sachs, worked on Goldman’s acquisitions of United Capital and fintech application Clarity Money. Lambert also helped craft the credit card strategy for Goldman’s Marcus platform, culminating in a 2019 deal to offer the Apple Card, and its business lending partnerships with both Wal-Mart and Amazon.
Christopher Grant, 29, is an opportunity zone investor who manages Blueprint Baltimore and oversees a $140 million project to redevelop Baltimore’s Amtrak and regional train station. A Baltimore native, who graduated from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Grant plans to deploy $400 million-to-$3 billion of development capital in Baltimore in coming years.
Our listmakers aren’t just making hedge fund and private equity investments, they’re also at the vanguard of financial technology and cryptocurrencies.
Alex Bouaziz, a French-born graduate of MIT, founded a venture firm in 2016 and realized his portfolio companies were struggling to onboard their technology workforce globally, so he founded Deel, which automates the management of increasingly far-flung workforces. It’s 600-plus clients operate in 150 countries and Bouaziz recently raised $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz and other investors.
Hamel Kothari, 27, cofounded Brigit in 2017 to help low and middle-income Americans better manage their finances. The app provides budgeting advice and prevents users from incurring overdraft fees by moving money into their accounts. Kothari manages all of Brigit’s technology and credit risk, as the company has grown to 250,000 paying users and a forecasted $30 million in revenue this year.
Helen Chen, 29, cofounded San Francisco-based fintech startup Nomad, a Zillow-like residential real estate marketplace focused on the Middle East and Europe. Chinedu Eleanya, immigrated from Nigeria to the U.S. with his parents when he was 11. In 2018, he cofounded his second startup, Mulberry, a tech platform that retailers use to offer extended warranties to ecommerce customers. Key clients include fitness device Mirror, coffee machine maker Breville and mattress company Nectar.
Our 30 Under 30 in Finance list was our most diverse ever, with half of honorees being women, underrepresented minorities and immigrants.
Amiti Uttarwar, 28, is the first known female contributor to Bitcoin Core, the cryptocurrency that now trades at a $355 billion market capitalization. Charlie Noyes, 21, an investment partner at crypto venture fund Paradigm Capital, currently overseeing $100 million in positions for the largest crypto fund in the world, including successful investments in Tagomi and Uniswap.
Flori Marquez, 29, cofounded cryptocurrency lending platform BlockFi, which allows crypto holders to lend out cryptocurrency at rates as high as 8.6%. The platform also offers crypto trading services and has raised over $100 million in equity from venture capital firms including Galaxy Digital, Susquehanna, and Winklevoss Capital. BlockFi, which has 100,000 funded accounts and is on track to earn $120 million revenue this year, is preparing for an IPO.
Jack Mallers, 26, is CEO of Zap, a bitcoin investment and payments company that transacts over the Lightning Network, which recently closed a $3.5 million seed round led by Greenoaks Capital. Mallers’ company is now working with Visa as the payments and credit card giant introduces clients to bitcoin.
Our judges this year: Under 30 list alumni Henrique Dubugrass, founder of fintech unicorn Brex; Orlando Bravo, the co-founder of private equity’s top-performing firm Thoma Bravo; Superstar stockpicker Cathie Wood of ARK Investments and Michael Novogratz, the philanthropist and founder of Galaxy Digital, a crypto-focused merchant bank.