Sunday, December 18, 2011

Harvard's Clayton Christensen: The World's Most Influential Business Thinker (and what he's investing in)

From MIT's Technology Review:
The Harvard innovation guru puts his money where the disruption is.
Clayton Christensen is a giant in the world of technology innovation. The Harvard Business School professor (who stands 6 feet 8 inches tall) came up with the influential theory of disruptive technology and this year was crowned by Forbes magazine as the "the world's most influential business thinker."

Less well known is that Christensen, 59, has staked his personal wealth, and that of his large family, on his academic ideas. The Boston hedge fund he owns, called Rose Park Advisors, operates a "Disruptive Innovation Fund" that has invested more than $100 million into companies fitting his theories about how technology disrupts markets.

The investment company is led by Christensen's 34-year-old son, Matthew, himself a Harvard Business School graduate and former management consultant. Matt Christensen says the fund sticks closely to the ideas his father developed in books such as The Innovator's Solution, which describe how new technology and management psychology lead to the rise and fall of great companies.

Father and son began investing together in 2002, Matt Christensen says, "and we did really well—so we thought we could take the show on the road." In 2007 they launched Rose Park, named after the Salt Lake City neighborhood where the elder Christensen grew up.

The fund manages money from some 40 investors, including Scott Cook, the founder and chairman of Intuit, which makes TurboTax software. It also manages the bulk of the savings of the Christensen clan. "We're investing nearly all the family money," says Matt Christensen, who works closely with his father. "We talk almost every day and meet to talk about the portfolio every two weeks."

Unlike hedge funds that use complex computer algorithms to trade stocks, he says, Rose Park mostly picks investments according to one simple criterion: "disruptive or not."...MORE
HT: Abnormal Returns