In 1998, a man who was noticeably competent in two different fields — investment management and biochemistry — one Stuart Weisbrod, founded an investment management company focused on the healthcare sector.
That investment management company — the Merlin BioMed Group — invested the sub-sectors of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical devices. Weisbrod soon brought Jacob Gottlieb on board as a portfolio manager. Weisbrod brought considerable experience in healthcare investing, having worked in that specialty for Oracle Partners, Merrill Lynch, Harpel Partners, and Prudential Bache Securities. Weisbrod also brought with him a Ph.D. in biochemistry and an MBA for good measure.
During Jacob Gottlieb’s time at Merlin, at the apogee of the biotech revolution, Jacob helped propel Merlin to returns of more than 100-percent in 1999 and 2000. Even though Merlin enjoyed years of success, Weisbrod shuttered the business in 2007 and returned investor’s funds. Jacob Gottlieb would go on to found an investment management fund, but not before spending more time working in the financial sector.
After tidying up Merlin’s affairs, Weisbrod founded a similar fund and named it Iguana Healthcare Partners. Weisbrod chose the Iguana as his new company’s symbol because of the creature’s ability weather changes by adapting to changing environments.
Jacob Gottlieb called his new firm Visium Asset Management. Jacob grew an initial investment of $300,000 into $2.5 billion by the time the Great Recession hit. Visium, under Jacob’s guidance, weathered the storm and at its height was a hedge fund with $8 billion under management.
Unfortunately, the SEC and the FBI would accuse three of Visium’s employees of mismarking and insider trading. The government filed charges against the three. Jacob was never accused nor charged. Visium itself never denied nor confirmed the charges, but it did agree to fines and disgorgement in the amount of $10 million.
As for Jacob Gottlieb? Jacob has remained with Visium as its CEO and is winding it down with an eye towards returning funds to investors — behavior that appears honorable to the eyes of this observer.
Mid-2018 finds Jacob knee deep in his new venture — the Altium Capital hedge fund. Altium’s first move was taking a 5.61% stake in Oramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. One of Oramed’s key products in an oral insulin capsule that takes the place of daily injections.
Today, old friends Gottlieb and Weisbrod are sharing office space. One can’t help but wonder if a new collaboration will result.
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