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Michael Larson (businessman)

Michael Larson (born October 1959) is an American money manager. He is the chief investment officer for The Gates Foundation and Bill Gates' fortune, through the Cascade Investment fund. He assumed the role in 1994.[1]

Michael Larson
Born October 1959 (age 58–59)
Sacramento, California
Alma mater Claremont McKenna College (BA)
University of Chicago (MBA)


Early life and educationEdit

Larson was born in Sacramento, California in October, 1959. He was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico and spent his summers in North Dakota. Larson attended Valley High School in Albuquerque.[1]

Larson graduated from high school in two years and was recruited to West Point, the Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. He was also accepted at the University of Washington and Claremont McKenna College. Larson was only 16 when he graduated high school and could not attend the Coast Guard Academy until he was 18. He decided to attend Claremont McKenna and graduated in three years with a degree in economics.[1] Larson subsequently earned an MBA from the University of Chicago at the age of 21.[1]


After receiving his MBA from the University of Chicago, Larson went to work for ARCO doing mergers and acquisitions. After a few years, Larson moved to Boston to work for Putnam Investments managing bond funds. After two years, Larson left Putnam to run his own fund.[1]

Cascade InvestmentEdit

While trying to buy a Chicago-based money management firm, Larson received a call from a head hunter to work for Bill Gates. The head hunter had heard of Larson from a few investors in Tacoma, Washington. In 1994, Larson and his wife moved to Seattle.[1] Larson called the investment shop Cascade Investment because the generic name would allow him to operate in the market without drawing attention. Larson has and continues to operate under the radar with the exception of a rare interview with Fortune in 1999.[2]

When Larson started at Cascade, informally known as BGI (Bill Gates Investments), he was the only employee. He quickly hired Alan Heuberger, a fellow graduate of Claremont McKenna College. Heuberger is now number two at the firm. Larson originally managed $11.5 billion of the Gates fortune and foundation but that has swelled tremendously over the years as Gates sells his Microsoft stock. Although an actual statement isn't released, it's believed that Larson manages well over $80 billion year to date. This number includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gates's personal wealth.[3]

Cascade is a diversified investment shop, although there is an emphasis on real estate private equity managed by the subsidiary, Los Arboles Management.

Larson was a pupil of Professor Jerry St. Dennis while at CMC. Larson convinced St. Dennis to come out of retirement in order to act as an advisor to Larson. Before teaching at CMC, St. Dennis was Assistant Secretary to the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and was Chairman and CEO of California Federal Bank.[4]

Other venturesEdit

Larson is a regular attendant of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors at Western Asset and is a member of the Board of Directors at Pan American Silver, Ecolab, Hamilton Lane,, Republic Services and AutoNation. Larson serves on the Board of Trustees at Claremont McKenna College, Lakeside School and the United Negro College Fund. He is also the Chair of the Investment Committee at the University of Washington.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Serwer, Andy; Lee, Jeanne (March 15, 1999). "One Family's Finances: How Bill Gates Invests His Money". Fortune. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  2. ^ Waldie, Paul (November 7, 2006). "Meet the man who runs Bill Gates's money". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  3. ^ Serwer, Andy (May 3, 2004). "Still a great job: Making sure Bill Gates stays rich". Fortune. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Company Overview of Cascade Investment, L.L.C." Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved July 27, 2012.