William (Bill) Ackman is the Founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, a hedge fund management company located in New York, New York. Bill was raised in Chappaqua, New York, the son of Ronnie I. and Lawrence David Ackman, a chairman of a New York real estate financing firm. Ackman attended Harvard College where he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. Just a few years later, Ackman received his MBA from Harvard Business School.
In 1992, with the help of fellow Harvard graduate David Berkowitz, Ackman founded Gotham Partners, an investment firm. The firm’s mainly worked on small investments in public companies. Gotham Partners wasn’t necessarily a household name, but when Ackman’s firm bid for Rockefeller Center with the help from partnering with Leucadia National, the company gained recognition. Although they lost the bid, their name being attached to the bidding process grew their popularity to the point that investors went to Gotham Partners ultimately growing their assets to $500 million in a three year span.
Amid the firm becoming entrenched in litigation in 2002, Ackman decided it was best to start slowly winding the firm down. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer ultimately found no wrongdoing.
In 2004, Ackman was back in business, this time with Pershing Square Capital Management. Ackman was able to get the firm on its feet with $54 million from his own funds and former business partner Leucadia National. Some of Pershing Capital’s best moves were owning shares of Wendy’s in 2005 and Target in 2007.