In another shocking White House shakeup yesterday, Anthony Scaramucci was ousted as Communications Director – after less than 2 weeks on the job.
Speculation surrounds his highly reported firing, with some commentators like Scott Adams saying that Scaramucci’s firing was simply a power play by the incoming Chief of Staff, General John Kelly. Others are pointing to Scaramucci’s interview with the New Yorker, in which he went on an expletive-laden rant against the whole White House staff – including Priebus and Bannon- that was the last straw for Trump.
However, many are unaware of who Scaramucci really is, or how he made his billions.
Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole:
In his 2016 book, Hopping Over The Rabbit Hole, Anthony Scaramucci recounts his blue collar upbringing, and his rise on Wall Street. The book is billed as a guide to entrepreneurship, and is comprised of a series of vignettes on key points in Scaramucci’s career and a discussion of the things he learned. Scaramucci’s most formative experiences was his “Hail Mary” gamble to save his little hedge fund as the housing crisis of 2008 hit.
His hedge fund was Skybridge Capital was not a traditional fund, but a “fund of funds” style operation. This meant that Skybridge invested in hedge funds, and helped them in turn get up and running – and eventually turn a profit, which Skybridge shared in as an investor. Scaramucci tells a story from the depths of the crisis, in which Skybridge was almost bankrupt, and was struggling to even meet payroll. It was at this time that Scaramucci pushed to save his company by putting on a lavish and elaborate conference in Las Vegas – one of the hardest hit areas of the country.
SALT Conference 2009:
While Scaramucci’s business partners doubted the wisdom of blowing all remaining company money on a lavish conference, Anthony Scaramucci aggressively pushed for his idea, saying that it would be a great way to attract the investors needed to save Skybridge Capital. The conference would be called the, “Skybridge Alternative Conference,” and would showcase unorthodox, alternative, and optimistic investors and market mavens. In his book, he recounts the mad dash that he and Skybridge went through to organize the conference as their company – and the entire economy – fell apart around them.
Despite Scaramucci’s optimism, his partners and employees at Skybridge were markedly less optimistic that the SALT Conference could be run successfully from an organization that had no history in events management, or that this was not just an excuse to throw a party with company money before bankruptcy.
On The Up And Up:
The incredible gamble that was SALT 2009 payed off for Anthony Scaramucci. In the following year, Skybridge was more than just back. As Citi Group navigated the financial crisis, they spun off many different departments and operations, and in 2010 Skybridge Capital was strong enough to win their bid for Citi Group’s entire Alternative Investments Department.
The acquisition of Citi’s alternative investment team gave Skybridge the manpower and expertise to supercharge their ‘fund of funds’ investment strategy – and with the now annual, and star studded, SALT Conferences, they were becoming a well known and well-respected name on Wall Street.
In early 2017, Scaramucci sold Skybridge in a bid to join the incoming Trump Administration.
The similarities between Scaramucci and Trump do not stop at their New York underdog upbringing, or in the magnitude of their financial success (Scaramucci is a billionaire). Over the course of the SALT Conferences that Skybridge organized, and as Scaramucci’s profile was raised on Wall Street, he regularly interacted with political and cultural leaders from all sides of the ideological spectrum.
Indeed, much like Trump, Scaramucci’s past political involvements were bipartisan and at times mercenary. Scaramucci raised money for Obama in 2008, and for Mitt Romney in 2012 – and his politics are more pragmatic than principles-driven, an observation that numerous commentators have made. However, those same commentators said the same of Trump as well, and with Trump and Scaramucci being long-time friends, they are more similar than detractors might want to believe.
As both the face and emcee of the massively successful SALT conference, and frequent guest on financial media outlets, Anthony Scaramucci’s career was built on fielding curveball questions from wickedly intelligent and connivingly skeptical audiences. And as a (former) manager of a successful and highly respected hedge fund, he has undeniable management and wealth-creation capability.
Unfortunately for Scaramucci, Washington DC is not the same scene as Wall Street, and he has some learning to do. He himself admitted in a Tweet on July 27th, “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won’t happen again.”
Scaramucci’s “talent stack” (a fascinating concept from commentator Scott Adams) is too valuable -and too similar to Trump’s – for him to be kept down for long. He is too useful of an asset to be sitting around at the Export-Import Bank.
However, I am willing to bet that he will be back in the White House before long… What are your thoughts?