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For Ex-Merrillite Dow Kim, It's $10 Million a Year or Nothing

Dow Kim, a former honcho at Merrill Lynch, has dropped plans to start a hedge fund, according to a Bloomberg report by Katherine Burton. Why? He couldn't raise the $1 billion he was looking for.

I guess, say, $500 million was not enough, assuming he could get half a loaf.

Let's look at the math.

With $1 billion, Kim's fund, Diamond Lake Investment Group, would earn $20 million a year just on the standard hedge fund fee of two percent on assets. Kim had reportedly hired 30 people based on commitments. If these folks were paid $300,000 on average (remember, some were likely clerical), that's $9 million. Add $2 million for rent, computers and Aeron chairs, and you barely have $9 million left for Kim. If he could only raise $500 million, and he still needed 30 folks to help sort the mail and spread the spreadsheets, though, there's no profit at all -- except of course for the 20 percent of profits these managers typically get on top of their two percent for just for showing up.

Maybe, though, even the $9 million Kim could expect with the full $1 billion wasn't worth his getting out of bed. Various reports say he earned $37 million in his last year as head of trading and investment banking at Merrill, getting out just before Merrill's portfolio tuned into a disaster.