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Rating:A Legendary Singer Caps Off Baron's Bash  Not Rated 5.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, November 08, 2013

A Legendary Singer Caps Off Baron's Bash

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

It appears that Ron Baron only does one color, flavor and size: BIG.

The chief executive of Baron Funds pulled off yet another larger-than-life shareholders conference at Lincoln Center, renting four of the Center's gargantuan halls for thousands of shareholders.

The keynote performer was Barbara Streisand.

Katherine McPhee (of Smash fame), Melissa Etheridge (later joined by Joan Osborne) and Counting Crows were the featured lunch performers.

McPhee performed yet another time, in the main opera hall, channeling some powerful romance zeitgeisty magic with her rendition of "Some Day", and then had the hall standing (and perhaps this reporter tearing a wee bit) with a soulful "God Bless America".

Baron president and chief operating officer Linda Martinson then went into a speech focusing on the subject of vision.

To make her point, she went through a hypothetical set of four style-boxes in relation to the ideas and execution.

Box One: the Bad Idea, Good Execution box.
Examples: Justin Bieber, Pet Rocks

Box Two: the Bad Idea, Bad Execution box.
Examples: cigarette holders for two, the Speedo.

Box Three: the Good Idea, Bad Execution box.
Examples: Palm Pilot, Friendster, Altavista, The New York Mets, the 2013 U.S. Congress.

Box Four: the Good Idea, Good Execution box
Examples: the iPhone, Facebook and Google.

Martinson's presentation, which focused on Baron's strengths as a company.

For example, during the financial crisis, the firm focused on growing staff, expanding from 69 people at the height of the Crisis to 117 people now.

The firm has seen a healthy asset rebound: In 2006, it had an AUM of $17 billion; $10 billion in 2009 and now $23 billion in 2013.

To illustrate her role in the company, Martison had vintage video rolls of the Terry Tate: Office Linebacker with the fictitious linebacker flying through the office, painfully sacking office schlubs who forget to brew new pots of coffee, to recycle or goof off too long in the office.

The event then featured Baron's portfolio managers, who each gave talks about their investing styles and philosophies. Much was said about the importance of vision, ideas, disruptors and executives with transformative ambitions. The PMs said they look for cultures and patterns of success when they look for investment opportunities.

Ron Baron himself then took the stage and asked everyone to stand up and take a breath. Most did, happily.

He talked about his childhood hero, Superman, and his X-ray vision, which he allowed him to see through anything.

"You could see how that would seem neat to a 13-year old boy," Baron said.

He then went into his firm's philosophy towards investing: see opportunities and possibilities where others don't. For example, he sees a rosy future for the American economy due to cheap sources of energy, advances in healthcare and technology, and so on.

He talked about his vision: first, a big idea, they're in the compounding business; two, they invest in people, and "don't get hit by a meteor," i.e. the succession plan in case Ron should ever go. 

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