《The Man Who Solved The Market》中文版翻译连载60
The Man Who Solved The Market (64)
At home, Melvin, a math whiz who never had the opportunity to fully employ his talents, took his frustrations out on his son. After Melvin criticized David for being overweight, the young man became a long-distance runner, starving himself one summer until he showed signs of anorexia, hoping for some kind of praise from his father. Later, David entered long-distance races, emulating his track coach, though his body usually broke down by the thirteenth mile of their training sessions.
“I was easily motivated by coaches,” Magerman recalls.
He continued to seek the approval of those in positions of power and seek new father figures, even as he developed a mystifying need to pick fights, even unnecessary ones.
“I needed to right wrongs and fight for justice, even I was turning molehills into mountains,” Magerman acknowledges. “I clearly had a messiah complex.”
One year in high school, when he learned a track meet was scheduled for the second night of Passover, Magerman rallied local rabbis to his cause to have the meet canceled. His disappointed teammates didn’t understand why Magerman cared so much; even he wasn’t entirely sure.
“I was mediocre runner and wasn’t even religious. I don’t think we even had a second seder,” Magerman recalls. “It was a schmucky thing to do.”
During his senior year, Magerman and a couple of friends announced they were leaving to spend the second semester studying at a school in Israel, partly because the principal fo their high school had warned him against the idea. Magerman seemed to be searching for structure in his life. In Jerusalem, the young man began memorizing religious books, studying history, and adopting religious practices, drinking in the praise from teachers and the school’s headmaster.
Before leaving for Israel, Magerman left his college essays and applications with his mother in Florida, so she could mail them to the various schools. That spring, Magerman was accepted by the University of Pennsylvania but was rejected by every other Ivy League school, surprising and disappointing him. Years later, while clearing out his mother’s home, Magerman stumbled upon a copy of his Harvard University application. He discovered that she had reworked his essay, as she had for almost every other school, excising all references to Israel and Judaism, worried that anti-Semitism might deter schools from accepting him. For whatever reason, she thought Penn was a Jewish university, so she left that one untouched.
Magerman thrived at Penn, partly because he had embraced a new cause — proving the other schools had made a mistake turning him down, he excelled in his majors, computers science and mathematics. Chosen to be a teaching assistant in a computational-linguistics course, he lapped up the resulting attention and respect of his fellow students, especially the coeds. His senior-year thesis also gained some recognition. Magerman, an adorable, if insecure, teddy bear of a kid, was finally in his element.
At Stanford University, Magerman’s doctoral thesis tackled the exact topic Brown, Mercer, and other IBM researchers were struggling with: how computers could analyze and translate language using statistics and probability. In 1992, IBM offered Magerman an internship. By then, he had adopted a somewhat thicker exterior and flourished in the group’s sharp-elbowed culture. Magerman eventually received a full-time position at IBM, though he saw less success in other areas of his life. After spotting a young woman named Jennifer in his group, Magerman hit on her, suffering almost immediate rejection.
“She wanted nothing to do with me,” he says.
It probably was for the best — it turned out that Jennifer, who went by Jenji, was the eldest daughter of Bob Mercer.
When Magerman joined Renaissance in 1995, Simons’s firm didn’t seem close to becoming an investing power. Its headquarters had been built to house a cutting-edge startup, but the dreary space, close to a hospital, looked more appropriate for a fading insurance company. Simons’s thirty or so employees sat in drab cubicles and nondescript offices. The walls were a bare, ugly off-white, and the furniture resembled Rent-A-Center rejects. On warm days, Simons meandered around in Bermuda shorts and open-toed sandals, underscoring the hedge fund’s not-ready-for-prime-time feel.
Yet there also was something vaguely intimidating about the place, at least to Magerman. Part of it was simply the stature of his new colleagues — figuratively and physically. Almost everyone was well over six feet tall, towering over the five-foot-five Magerman, breeding new insecurities in the bachelor. Magerman didn’t have friends or family in the area, either. He was thrilled when Mercer’s wife, Diana, invited him to a family movie outing, capped by dessert at a Friendly’s restaurant. Magerman gratefully joined the Mercers on subsequent evenings, easing his transition.