On Wed. afternoon, Bill A. Ackman ’88 issued an uncharacteristically short statement on X: Pershing Square USA, Ltd. — a new Ackman hedge fund — had filed with the SEC for an initial public offering.
Unlike his firm’s existing stock offerings, which trade on stock exchanges in London and Amsterdam and cater primarily to high-income investors, this new IPO lists no minimum investment and no steep management fee.
Ackman’s latest financial venture angles itself toward the masses.
Of course, there is nothing inherently unsettling about a renowned financier launching a general audience hedge fund. But with Ackman, we have to remember the context. After months spent building a zealous audience on X and beyond, it seems like Ackman is going to cash in.
The IPO filing, which apparently refers to Ackman synecdochally as “The Adviser,” says it plainly:
“The Fund expects that it will have significant liquidity supported by its scale, name recognition and the Adviser’s broad following. The Adviser believes that the Fund has the potential to be one of the largest, if not the largest, listed closed-end funds and expects that the Adviser’s brand-name profile and broad retail following will drive substantial investor interest and liquidity in the secondary market.”
Ackman’s fans — once valiant comrades in a grassroots assault on Harvard — seem to have been reduced to a “broad retail following.” The premise of the new firm is, openly, that his growing prominence will translate to investment.
Let’s back up for a second. The Bill Ackman Show began in October, when he called on Harvard to identify the student signatories of the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee’s statement “entirely” blaming Israel for the Oct. 7 attacks. Suddenly he was in the spotlight.
Since October, Ackman’s X following has increased by more than 400,000; between the beginning of October and former University President Claudine Gay’s resignation in January, national search interest in Ackman spiked to as much as ten times its prior levels.
He had stirred the passions of broad swathes of the American public. In his noble crusade against an irreparably progressive Harvard, Ackman had tapped into a deep reserve of anti-elitism, anti-liberalism, and anti-intellectualism.
It worked. President Gay resigned. Ackman’s movement won, but this is hardly Ackman’s curtain call.
He has amassed a devoted following that prizes his every word. He also runs a successful hedge fund. The combined power of those two assets is undeniable. And for Ackman’s next act, it seems he’ll consubstantiate the two.
Ackman’s new fund requires public appeal to succeed. He needs a large group of Americans to vest their faith in his judgment, and he has that. Their wallets will follow.
So unfolds a quintessential American story, timeless and poignant. A sharp, intelligent, wealthy man gave the public a show. He played off their insecurity and contempt and optimism.
Ackman commandeered the national narrative and made a mark on American politics. But his newfound marquee billing was always contingent on public buy-in.
We all — Harvard, his following, politicians on the right and left — gave him the attention he needed.
America lent him our eyes and airwaves, our loathing and devotion, our criticism and praise.
Alas, it is all quite clear now. Ackman will, like many great populists before him, channel public fervor to his benefit. He joins the ranks of the many powerful men who have ensnared our attention, captured our hearts, and put our hands or votes or dollars to work for them.
The Ackman Show channeled America’s hate and hope, pitting the nation against itself. Now it’s time to pay up.
Lorenzo Z. Ruiz ’27, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Greenough Hall.