Course CorrectionJeff Ubben '87
For many, change means buying a new tie or eating more greens. For Jeff Ubben '87, change usually starts with a seat at the table.
As CEO and founder of ValueAct, a San Francisco-based activist hedge fund, Ubben invests heavily in public companies to gain seats on their board. From there, he and his partners can affect major changes.
Sure, this kind of work can be risky. Case in point: ValueAct recently announced it had invested $1.6 billion in Microsoft, a company still reeling from a decade of disappointing sales. But Ubben says ValueAct's style of investing, which favors longer-term engagement, gives him more time to help the company get back on its feet. "We try to make good companies better," Ubben says. "At Microsoft, we think they've been overinvesting in some of these device businesses."
Ubben longed for this kind of board work as a portfolio manager at Fidelity Management. Tired of leaving the decision making to others, Ubben moved out west and worked as a managing partner at Blum Capital Partners, a private equity firm. In 2000, he founded ValueAct.
Now managing more than $12 billion in assets, Ubben has grown the company by making "a few good decision each year." But some of his best work comes from working with charities like the New York-based Posse Foundation, which provides scholarships to gifted high school seniors overlooked by top-ranked colleges. "I feel like they really, truly need me," he says.
WHY I GAVE TO KELLOGG
"“Kellogg fosters a strong sense of community and responsibility. It deserves to and needs to remain among the best business schools in the world. A new building on the waterfront is part of keeping the school in its rightful place.” Jeff Ubben '87