Alas, no Eph Blurbs came in today, so we will just have to make due with media comments.

Morty Schapiro had a couple of comments of NPR’s Marketplace show this evening. Alas, I can’t find the actual comments anywhere, but this site provides an overview on the series: “The Ivory Tower in the Real World.” Morty’s comments were perfectly reasonable, but quite short. Perhaps he’ll be on in future installments of the series. I think that this might be an audio of the story, but I am not smart enough to do audio.

The real shocker of an item about Williams from the program was that the college has an endowment of $1.1 billion — I don’t remember it being that big — which is down from $1.5 billion a year ago. I tried my best to find information on the endowment at the college website, but all I could find was this quite-out-of-date Q & A. Here is my favorite section:

What is the performance of the investments of the endowment?
The chart below indicates the performance of the Williams endowment in recent years.

’88 ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92 ’93 ’94 ’95 ’96 ’97 ’98 ’99 ’01
Return 2.6 14.5 11.0 6.8 13.9 14.3 4.5 14.9 18.0 22.3 18.3 28.9 51.2

The web page also includes S&P and bond returns for these years, but I had trouble copying it over. Looking at this, the obvious comments are:

1) The College sure did benefit from the bull market of the 1990’s.
2) The chart on the web page is missing ’00. I suspect that the last figure is for ’00 and is just mislabeled. There is almost no way that the college made 50% (!) in 2001.
3) Back of the envelope, it is not clear to me that the college’s active investment strategy has served it that well. I wonder what returns would have been if the college had just indexed (in any reasonable mix of bonds and equities) over the last 15 years. I’ll try to find a more thorough report.
4) I remember that, during the bubble years, the college seemed quite pleased with a variety of venture capital investments that it had made. There was an article (in the Review?) about how the college had cleaned up in Amazon. (Actually, it wasn’t clear how much money (total dollars) the college made in Amazon and the like. Instead, it was obvious that, in perecentage terms, the college (like every other high tech venture capitalist of that era) did well on the investments.
5) Depending on how much money the college put into venture capital (on on the quality of those VC folks), the college could be looking at more trouble over the next year or two. A lot of those investments have probably not been marked down as far as they should have been.

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