Peter Brown, the CEO of top hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, slept 2,000 nights in his office.
In an interview with Goldman Sachs, he said he valued the uninterrupted time with his colleagues.
“The job is so demanding, I really don’t see how I could do it otherwise.”
The chief executive officer of Renaissance Technologies, the secretive and massively successful hedge fund, said he has spent 2,000 nights sleeping in the office – but he doesn’t regret it.
In an interview with Goldman Sachs’ podcast host Raj Mahajan, Renaissance’s Peter Brown explained his work habits and family situation working in a different town from where his wife lives.
Brown answered “yes” in response to Mahajan’s question as to whether it was true he spent nearly 2,000 nights sleeping in his office.
“My wife works in Washington DC,” Brown said. “And my experience has been that when a husband and a wife work in two different towns, the husband commutes. Psychologically, if I’m going to be away from my family, I have to work. I sleep in my office when I’m in Long Island.”
It’s taxing on his relationships, but there are upsides as far as his work, the executive added.
“For me, productivity-wise it’s really fantastic being able to spend nearly 80 straight hours each week with no interruptions except sleep thinking about work before spending three more normal days at home.” Brown said.
“Of course, I really miss my family. But the freedom to concentrate nonstop on work while surrounded by my colleagues is hugely valuable. And the job is so demanding, I really don’t see how I could do it otherwise.”
He added that he sleeps very little anyway, and that he typically doesn’t sleep well, though not by choice. That leads to many 2 a.m. emails, Brown said.
Renaissance Technologies, meanwhile, is one of the most successful and mysterious hedge funds in the world. Its flagship Medallion Fund generated roughly 66% annualized returns, before fees, from 1988 to 2020. After fees, those stood at 39%.
Brown’s nighttime activity once indirectly led to him giving a colleague a raise so that he could justify calling him in the middle of the night.
“So, it was around 1 o’clock in the morning and I picked up the phone to call [a colleague],” Brown said. “And Jim says to me, ‘Wait. You can’t call this guy in the middle of the night. He doesn’t make enough money.’ So, I said, ‘Fine. How about this? I’ll call him. I’ll tell him we’re going to give him a raise. And then ask him our question.’ And so, that’s what we did.”