Hedge Fund Manager Retires, Launches Second Career as Philanthropist

At the tender age of 38, John Arnold has retired from trading securities at Centaurus Energy to focus on philanthropic pursuits with his wife, Laura, the Houston Chronicle reports.

His decision to walk away from a successful hedge fund puzzled many, but Arnold, who grew up in a middle-class home in north Dallas, told the Chronicle that the prospect of using his skills to create social change was more exciting than trading energy contracts, putting to rest speculation he was leaving the field because he had lost the urge to compete in what has become a tough market. "I see people working well beyond the point where they need to work to have everything they could ever want," said Arnold. "They spend their whole life creating a pile of money with no real plan on what to do with it. I view that as a partial failure of a life. With great wealth comes great responsibility."

For the Arnolds, whose fortune tops $3 billion and whose foundation reported more than $711 million in assets in 2010, the last year for which complete date is available, that means making philanthropic investments in a broad range of areas, including education reform, health care, social services, and social justice, with the stated goal of helping to solving some of society's most pressing problems during their lifetimes.

Indeed, unlike other billionaires, whose foundations often are staff or consultant driven, the Arnolds are representative of a new generation of mega-wealthy entrepreneurs, many of them from the fields of finance and technology, committed to taking an active role in their philanthropy. "We think of ourselves as...[a] kind of laboratory for the country," said Laura Arnold, a former corporate lawyer. "We pick the idea up, whatever it is, and make it happen by whatever means necessary. We are committed to achieving change."

Mike Tolson. "Retiring Billionaire Will Work on Putting Money to Best Use." Houston Chronicle 05/19/2012.