Anthony Scaramucci suddenly soared into a household name in 2017 – serving as the no-holds-barred White House Director of Communications under President Donald Trump for just eleven days. But long before his stint in the political limelight, he was a well-known Wall Street with a knack for thinking outside-the-box risk-taking and subsequently reaping deep-pocketed rewards.
“I’ve been a liquor investor, a hoard spirits investor, and I’m an investor in something called Whipshots with Cardi B,” Scaramucci, the founder and managing partner of global alternative investment firm SkyBridge, and founder and chairman of SALT, an international thought leadership forum and venture studio, says energetically of the flavored, alcohol-infused whip cream. “And I own a piece of a Balinese rum that is about to enter the U.S. market. It is as potent as any other rum but a little less sweet.”
Yet that is hardly where the avid entrepreneur’s perchance for a good time ends. Scaramucci also owns midtown Manhattan’s popular wheeling-and-dealing “The Hunt and Fish Club” and recently opened a satellite restaurant at LaGuardia airport, with plans to expand into JFK. In his words, it all stems from a personal love to “tinker with new things.”
The 59-year-old, now-father-of-five and lifelong Long Islander was born and raised in a middle-class, Italian-American family in the hamlet of Port Washington. The son of a sand mine crane operator, Scaramucci was the first of his generation to attend college. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School – his time there briefly overlapped with that of future President Barack Obama – the wildly-ambitious financier embarked on an illustrious career as a private wealth manager at Goldman Sachs before co-founding investment partnership form Oscar Capital Management, which sold in 2001 to Neuberger Berman.
In 2005, Scaramucci brought SkyBridge Capital to life (where he remains a managing partner and rebuffs the exhaustive label of a conventional CEO) leading the firm into the multibillion-dollar value sphere, specializing in investments and assets falling outside traditional categories. With that zest for innovation in mind, Scaramucci became one of the earliest and proudest adopters of cryptocurrency and its underlying technology known as Blockchain and was last year ranked number 47 in Cointelegraph’s Top 100 Influencers in the space.
The affiliation came with riding high as crypto soared in 2020 and 2021, followed by a meteoric crash in 2022 – amplified by the bankruptcy of crypto exchange and hedge fund FTX and the criminal charges levied by the U.S. government against disgraced founder Sam Bankerman-Fried, someone with whom Scaramucci closed deals, deemed a “visionary” and once considered a friend. Further, 2023 has brought about a string of controversial lawsuits against other major exchanges by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC); thus, one would hardly blame the SkyBridge maven for wiping his hands of the volatile decentralized financial system; only his faith remains unwavering.
“We looked incredibly smart in 2021, and we obviously looked very stupid in 2022. But the cryptocurrency markets, particularly Bitcoin, are up approximately 80 percent this year. So, it has been a good recovery year for us,” Scaramucci continues with an almost infectious enthusiasm. “If you’re an investor in crypto, depending on the day or that moment, you look very stupid or very smart. But we’re holding (out) long-term, despite the regulatory turmoil, uncertainty, and market volatility.”
He has his eye on the emerging gaming arena – with a particular passion for Vulcan Forged, a blockchain-based play-to-earn crypto game – as well as its cohorts known as the metaverse and the next evolution of the internet collectively termed “Web3.”
In basic terms, Web3 is a world wide web owned and dictated by users rather than the conglomerates. While Big Tech – Amazon, Google, and Facebook (now Meta), to name a few – dominate the current internet landscape, controlling what content can be pushed, promoted, prohibited, and passed along, Web3 leans on decentralized blockchain technology to eliminate the intermediator and put users back in the driver’s seat. It is also a natural progression of technological advancement. Web1 was the internet we learned in the 1990s and the early years of the eponymous Y2K, brought to life by laborious dial-up connections, open-source protocols, fixed webpages, sluggish and megabyte-heavy downloads, basic messenger and little else in the realm of real-time interactions. The past two decades have brought about the emergence of Web2, igniting an epoch of multimedia and social media, dynamic interactions, advanced gaming, and the rise of Silicon Valley on our desks and inside our pockets.
However, the Web3 cosmos is likely a linking of the community-directed mindset of Web1 with the modern advancements of Web2 and much, much more.
“There is going to be a big opportunity here for the metaverse. We think one of the cutting-edge ideas in gaming is play-to-earn (style of) gaming. We think we’re in the investment industry, but we’re actually in the fashion industry – the skirts go up and down, the styles change,” Scaramucci explains. “And so, one minute, we’re hot on biotechnology; the next, we’re hot on artificial intelligence. I’m old enough to remember Web1, which was a huge mania until it wasn’t. Cryptocurrency was a huge mania, and now it isn’t. If you look at long-term trends and long-term growth, we love gaming; we love Web3 gaming.”
But ultimately, Scaramucci’s recipe for success boils down to patience, and following his nose – and numbers – when it comes to growth.
“We would like growth. And so, we’re probably willing to pay more on an earnings per share basis or from a revenue or an event basis if we see something with huge growth and scalability capability. In the case of something like Vulcan Forged, they had probably 25,000 users on our gaming platform when I made that investment. Now they have over 200,000. We think that they can easily get to a million users over the next couple of years,” he conjectures. “In the case of Bitcoin, there were 80 million wallets for Bitcoin when I made the first investment in October 2020. There are now 340 million wallets. And as the wallets go up, the demand for Bitcoin goes up. There is a lot of scalability; there’s a lot of price performance and opportunity ahead.”
The second criterion for making an investment decision comes down to whether or not the prospect embodies grit and a no-failure ethos.
“For me, it is the can-do and the unwillingness to fail. I have failed a number of times in my career. But I’m not willing to give up,” Scaramucci surmises. “Can you hang in there when bad things are happening? Can you change your plan? Can I demonstrate resilience in the marketplace? That is a huge thing for us when we’re investing in companies, early stage or late-stage companies, or even the hedge fund managers that we put our money with.”
Thirdly, and perhaps the most challenging for all involved, is the ability to avoid touching the investment even in the face of cliental pressure and falling chips.
“If you just hang in there, and you buy really good fundamentals, you’re going to ultimately be right; that’s our opinion. This is sort of a crazy statement to make, but the best-performing accounts at Charles Schwab are the dead people. They own good assets and sit on those assets,” Scaramucci emphasizes.
Perhaps another undeniable key to this New Yorker’s prosperity is not allowing the heavily spouted fears of political catastrophe to hamper his energy to keep moving forward. Scaramucci is confident that inflation numbers are decreasing and that the introduction of technology – think AI automotive vehicles and self-driving robots – will continue this promising, descending trend. He also admits to being “indifferent” to the brewing worries this year that lawmakers would fail to raise the debt ceiling and subsequently default on its debt, knowing full well that the U.S. would never risk such an economic cataclysm.
“That didn’t affect my investment judgment. I guess the broader question that everyone should be asking themselves is, what is the United States going to do to fix the deficit problem, fix the entitlement problem in the country, fix the infrastructure problem, which we’re so sorely lacking in infrastructure? And the short answer is we don’t have politicians with the political will to lay out for the American people,” he asserts. “We have a two-minute plan. We have a cable news fighting plan and a tribal ‘let’s split the Republic and do damage to each other’ plan. But we don’t have this unified plan.”
While remaining fiercely patriotic and right-of-center, Scaramucci himself seemingly has no immediate plans to step back into the political fray. But being that charismatic, brimming-with-confidence New York money man he is, Scaramucci can’t help but express an opinion – or two – as the 2024 Presidential election gains steam.
“I’m a lifelong Republican. I supported Donald Trump in 2016. When I thought he was going off the rails and threatening the democracy, I withdrew my support because I’m more of a patriot than I am a partisan, so I will support the Republican nominee,” he adds. “If it’s DeSantis, Christie, or Haley, or you pick somebody, I will support them. But if it’s Donald Trump, I won’t support him because I worked for him, so I know how nuts he is. This (election) is a rough and tumble. But I guess I’ll talk about investing and stay out of politics…”
Well, at least for now.