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An Indian American, Mala Gaonkar, made history by becoming the largest debut of a woman-led hedge fund in the history of the industry. Her firm, SurgoCap Partners, began trading on Tuesday, Jan. 3 with $1.8 billion under management.
In October 2022, another firm Divya Nettimi’s Avala Global debuted with more than $1 billion in committed cash. SurgoCap and Avala Global have attracted significant capital after establishing themselves. While Gaonkar spent 23 years at Lone Pine Capital, Nettimi worked seven at Viking Global Investors.
Gaonkar founded SurgoCap Partners, an investment firm focused on the disruptive effects of technology within broad industry categories, in 2022. Prior to SurgoCap, she was a founding partner of Lone Pine Capital in 1998. At Lone Pine, she was a portfolio manager for the firm’s technology, media, internet, and telecommunications exposure, and was co-portfolio manager of Lone Pine’s long-only funds.
Before joining Lone Pine, Mala worked for The Boston Consulting Group and was also a Kauffman Fellow. She attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School. She is a founding trustee of Ariadne Labs, as well as a trustee of the Tate Foundation, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, and Surgo Ventures, a non-profit organization that uses data-driven solutions to solve health and social problems.
A representative for New York-based SurgoCap declined to comment on the launch, said a Bloomberg report.
Beyond her acumen in hedge fund management, Gaonkar is also focused on philanthropy. She co-founded the Surgo Foundation in 2015 to use artificial intelligence and behavioral science to solve global health problems. Five years later she co-founded the nonprofit Surgo Ventures to further that cause by developing strategic partnerships with other groups. Gaonkar has also signed the Giving Pledge to commit the majority of her wealth to philanthropy.
Gaonkar was born in the US and raised mostly in Bengaluru, India, where many of her relatives were doctors. She earned an economics degree and MBA from Harvard before joining Lone Pine as a founding partner in 1998. Three years later, she was named portfolio manager overseeing wagers on tech, media, internet, and telecom. She also co-headed the firm’s long-only funds.
In 2019, when Steve Mandel decided to step back from day-to-day management, he picked Gaonkar as one of three portfolio managers who would oversee Lone Pine’s assets, which totaled $16.7 billion as of August. She left in early 2022 to start SurgoCap.