People

Mark Cohodes

Mark Cohodes

Formal First Name
Mark
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Marc Cohodes is one of the world’s greatest short sellers. As a renowned mentor in the art of short-selling, he offers his perspective on the discipline, temperament required, and the intellectual rewards of this career. He also emphasizes skills that have helped him: pattern recognition, persistence, and a relentless work ethic. In addition, Cohodes is committed to exposing companies that he believes may be ripping off ordinary investors. Some of the most esteemed people in the investing industry say that nobody has had a better nose for sniffing out fraud than Cohodes. He is relentless in pursuit of dubious business practices and accounting fakery.

PERSONAL HISTORY

  • Cohodes grew up in Chicago.
  • He was never really good at school.
  • He often did his own thing as a kid.
  • He was a runner on the Midwest Options Exchange when it was all manual.
  • He always has been into the market—from 14-15-16 years old in high school. It's all he ever wanted to do.
  • He turned 1k into 20k while in High School.
  • He turned 20k to 60k in College.
  • A tenth-grade economics class got him interested in the financial markets.
  • His favorite course was policy formation, which looked at business case histories.
  • He invested his own and family/friends money in Data Access Systems, a company that turned out to be fraudulent—this is what got him into the short world.


CAREER IN SHORT SELLING

  • He worked part-time for a Merrill Lynch broker and learned the underbelly of the financial markets
  • His journey to the top ranks of short selling began in Chicago
  • In 1982, he landed a position with Northern Trust, where he met an analyst named Paul Landini who taught him about short selling
  • During his career at Copper River Management, The New York Times described Cohodes as 'the highest-profile short-seller on Wall Street'.
  • Many of his shorts have attained legendary status. These include:
    • Lernout & Hauspie, one of the largest securities fraud cases in European history
    • NovaStar Financial, for which Marc is now the subject of a Harvard Business Review case study.
  • Harvard Business Review wrote a case study on his short of Nova Star Financial
  • He thinks you have to be de-ranged to do short selling.
  • The worst feeling in the world is to lose other people's money.
  • He primarily sticks to shorting stocks.

GENERAL INVESTING ADVICE

  • You better be 'ready, aim, fire'—not the other way around.
  • Banks are the most fu**ed up place known to man.

SHORTING ADVICE

  • Don't get involved in something you can't explain to a 10th grader with a single paragraph.
  • Don't get into biotech, dreamy, or pie in the sky.
  • Look for shi**y companies, frauds, criminals, bad actors, charlatans, something stupid, career misfits.
  • Don't look unless you think you can make a 60-90% return.
  • Look for many ways to win—not just one.
  • Don't short anything 'legitimate companies'. A good acid test for 'legitness' is if people would miss that company if it wasn't here tomorrow.
  • Don't short the big overvalued tech firms like Facebook, Amazon, Google, Netflix, etc.
  • Legit companies use stock to finance their business. Bad companies try to create a stock and then the business second

OTHERS

  • He'd love to run the SEC for a while just to clean up lots of frauds that are out there.
  • Although he describes himself as a chicken farmer, he’s a savvy media operator.
  • He sets up websites for target companies to bolster his bearish views.
  • Going solo suits him fine. “I’m much more effective,” he says. “It’s sort of the David and Goliath thing.”
  • He has appeared as a guest on Real Vision.