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Aaron Brown – recent biography which doesn’t explain why he shut down the message boards of eRaider.com back in June 2004

Biography

I was born in Seattle Washington, 54 years ago. Other than stints in Syracuse, New York and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I spent my childhood there as well. I left to go to Harvard, where I got a degree in Applied Mathematics, then the University of Chicago, where I got a degree in Finance. I learned serious poker in Seattle, started playing for significant amounts of money at Harvard and have been serious about the game ever since.

After Chicago I started trading for myself, and for Prudential Insurance and Lepercq, de Neuflize (an investment bank in New York). I rose to be head of Mortgage Securities in Lepercq, but quit in 1988 to teach finance at Fordham University and Yeshiva University. I got interested in the emerging field of financial risk management, where there were a lot of exciting ideas and fun people. I worked in this for JPMorgan, Rabobank, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and now AQR Capital Management. That sounds like a lot of job-hopping, but not on Wall Street in the last 20 years. I lasted longer at my firms than the CEO at the time I was hired. Between mergers and massive reorganizations, it’s hard to find people with 20 years of service anywhere.

For three years in there, I ran a public mutual fund, the Allied Owners Action Fund, which was affiliated with a website, www.eRaider.com. We bought 5% stakes in public companies, then rallied other shareholders on the Internet to lobby for changes in the way the companies were run. We kicked off each “eRaid” on live CNNfn from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It was a lot of fun, and made a lot of new securities law and practice. We eventually got most of our way at all of our companies, and even forged positive relations with the managers and board members. The fund never attracted enough investment to cover the overhead of running a public fund, so I converted it to a private hedge fund and turned it over to my partners. I’m proud of what eRaider did, both for our shareholders and for corporate governance in general, but I made a lot of mistakes as well. When we started it, I wrote, “This idea is ahead of its time and will probably fail. I don’t mind, I think it will be fun. Years later, someone will pick up the core ideas with fresh energy, will learn from our mistakes, will walk easily guided by our blazes over trails we had to cut out of virgin forest, and will make a success of it. I hope she thanks me.” I’m not sure I believed that then. One big reason we didn’t do better is I started the fund with a partner, Professor Martin Stoller from Northwestern University. I was Mr. Inside, he was Mr. Outside. When he was diagnosed with brain cancer, eRaider lost a leg. He left a wife and three daughters when he died, and I miss him every day.

In 1987 I married Deborah Pastor, and we have two children, Jacob (18) and Aviva (14). Deborah is a portfolio manager and former FX salesperson, she was the portfolio manager for eRaider but also runs other money. We live in a big apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan, and have a nice lake house in Pennsylvania. I spend a reasonable amount of time at work, and enjoy my job. I also spend a lot of time reading, teaching, writing and playing poker. For exercise, I swim, sail, hike and bike; and go to the gym only if the weather is too bad for anything else. I don’t do much else.

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