Michael Edward "Mike" Novogratz (sometimes Novo, born November 26, 1964) is an ex-hedge fund manager, formerly of the investment firm Fortress Investment Group. He was ranked a billionaire by Forbes in 2007 and 2008. In 2017, he became a prominent voice in the blockchain space and in 2018 raised $250 million for the cryptocurrency investment fund Galaxy Digital.
Prior to joining Fortress, he was a partner at Goldman Sachs where he spent lots of time working abroad including leadership roles in Asia and Latin America. Novogratz is a 1987 graduate of Princeton University, where he was a member of the wrestling team. He was a Virginia state runner-up in high school wrestling. He served in the U.S. Army National Guard after college. His siblings include Jacqueline Novogratz and Robert Novogratz.
Early life and family
Raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Novogratz is the son of West Point football lineman and 1958 Knute Rockne Award (best lineman) winner Robert, Sr. He attended Fort Hunt High School. Novogratz was state of Virginia high school wrestling runner-up before serving as Princeton Wrestling captain. Novogratz was first team All-Ivy League in both 1986 (150-pound (68.0 kg)) and 1987 (158-pound (71.7 kg)). He qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrestling championships in both 1986 and 1987 (both at 150-pound (68.0 kg)). Novogratz earned his A.B. in economics. At the NCAA wrestling championships, he made it to the round of 12.
His sister Jacqueline Novogratz is founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, while his brother Robert Novogratz is a designer who has been profiled in the Bravo television series 9 by Design. Another brother John Novogratz is a senior managing partner at Millennium Partners.
After a stint in the New Jersey National Guard that included service as a helicopter pilot, Novogratz began his career with Goldman Sachs in 1989. On April 1, 1989, he joined the firm as a short-term bond (money market) salesman. Novogratz lived in Asia from 1992 to 1999. He took a salesman position for Goldman in Tokyo in 1992, and eventually Jon Corzine sent him to Hong Kong to run a trading desk for the firm. He was elected partner at Goldman in 1998. Among the positions that he held at Goldman were president of Goldman Sachs Latin America and the head of fixed income, currencies and commodities risk in Asia.
In March 2002, Novogratz joined Fortress Investments in time to join Wesley Edens, Robert Kauffman, Randal Nardone and Peter Briger, Jr. in taking the company public through its February 9, 2007, initial public offering. During the IPO, the company sold an 8% share to the public for $600 million. Before assuming his roles at Fortress as principal and director of Fortress Credit Corporation in 2006, he served as Co-Chief Information Officer of Macro Funds at Fortress Investment Group LLC. Although the Fortress' domain included both hedge funds and private-equity investments, Novogratz and his fellow Princetonian Briger ran the hedge funds. Although the stock price had risen to $35 at its IPO, by December 3, 2008, it dipped to as low as $1.87 after withdrawals from Novogratz' Drawbridge Global Macro fund were shut off.
New York Governor David Paterson appointed Novogratz to sit on the Hudson River Park Trust's board of directors in 2010. He serves as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Investment Advisory Committee on Financial Markets. Novogratz is the chairman and founder of Beat the Streets, a non-profit organization which fosters the sport of wrestling in New York City public schools. He also serves on the board of the Acumen Fund, NYU Langone Medical Center, Princeton Varsity Club, Boards of Creative Alternatives of New York, PAX, the School for Strings, and The Jazz Foundation of America. He founded and serves as the chairman of the board of the School for Strings. He is also the honorary chairman of USA Wrestling Foundation and the chairman of The Friends of the Hudson River Park. In October 2015, Novogratz retired from Fortress Investments.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Novogratz first became interested in cryptocurrency when a partner of his who moved out to the West Coast of the United States told him to look into Bitcoin. It peaked his interest, and decided to invest some of Fortress' balance sheet and some alongside Dan Morehead "just to be in the ecosystem."
After forgetting about cryptocurrencies for a period of time and leaving Fortress, Novogratz contacted his old college roommate Joseph Lubin in 2015 who was working on a new cryptocurrency at the time, Ethereum. He visited Lubin's ConsenSys office in Brooklyn when Ethereum was priced at $0.85. Liking what he saw, Novogratz bought Ethereum when it was one dollar and went to India. When he came back, Ethereum was priced at $5-$6.
Novogratz sees blockchain as a revolutionary concept and movement similar to the internet.
In 2006, he bought Robert De Niro's $12.25 million duplex in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood. When he moved into De Niro's former residence, Mickey Rourke moved into Novogratz' former Meatpacking district residence. He was college roommates with Richard Tavoso, head of global arbitrage and trading at RBC Capital Markets. He and his wife Dora "Sukey" Caceres have four children. They also own a home in Amagansett.
He has been a booster for the U.S. National Wrestling Team and an official spokesman for USA Wrestling. He was named the 2010 USA Wrestling Man of the Year and an Outstanding American by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007. When the International Olympic Committee cut Olympic Wrestling from the 2020 Summer Games, he campaigned for the sport's return.
Following the February IPO, which also brought Edens, Kauffman, Nardone and Briger billionaire status, Novogratz ranked #407 in the March 2007 Forbes list of world billionaires with a net worth of $2.3 billion, including his 66.6 million shares of Fortress Investments. In September 2007, Novogratz was listed at #317 on the Forbes 400 with a net worth of 1.5 billion dollars. He was ranked 962 on the March 2008 Forbes list of world billionaires with a net worth of $1.2 billion. The same year, he became a member of Kappa Beta Phi, a Wall Street secret society made up of wealthy financial executives. By 2012, after the decline of Fortress' stock price, his net worth had shrunk to $500 million. He supports Democratic political interests.