If you wanted to build a powerhouse hedge fund on the QT, here’s a great place to hide: directly above a popular Lincoln Road pub.
That’s precisely where Daniel Ades, the 32-year-old investment wiz kid, chose to put Kawa Capital Management, his boutique firm staffed — like much of changing Miami — by Brazilian-bred rising stars.
But if Ades makes it a point to avoid the limelight, his founding partner — Alexandre Saverin — acts like he’s allergic to it.
Given the family ties, it’s hard to blame him. Saverin’s little brother helped start Facebook. Eduardo Saverin, three years Alex’s junior, provided the seed money for Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm-room creation back in 2004. He’s now worth a cool $2 billion and after his life was depicted in Aaron Sorkin’s critically acclaimed film, The Social Network, is a minor celebrity .
Despite Kawa’s best efforts at anonymity, its secret is out. With some $275 million in assets under management, Ades and Saverin have become significant players since opening their firm in 2007 — even if their office space could easily pass for a loft apartment.
“We’re very publicity shy,” said Ades, who consented to a Miami Herald interview only after a bit of arm-twisting. “You want to be known for the things you do, not the things you say or for what people read about you. Reputation is the only thing one has, and that’s built over time, slowly but surely.”
Kawa, with five Brazilians among its 13-person staff, has a great story to tell, but the firm doesn’t have marketing department to speak of. Saverin was not made available for this story, and Ades declined comment when asked about his partner’s famous brother.
(This is a particularly sensitive subject in light of Eduardo Saverin’s recent decision to renounce his citizenship, a move seen by some as a way to duck capital gains taxes he would have paid when Facebook went public.)
Yet the rare times Kawa has made the news — like when Saverin dropped $10 million for Juwan Howard’s house in Coral Gables or when the firm took over a historic Gulf Coast resort — it has made a splash.
A few years back, Ades’ outfit bought the Belleview Biltmore Hotel near Clearwater, taking over a distressed property in rough condition. The resort, which also has a golf course, is more than a century old, and on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.
Ades said he bought the property “nearly sight-unseen,” but knew it needed a lot of work. He hopes to restore the Belleview Biltmore and make it profitable, but makes clear that he’s running a business, not a charity.
“If we decide it’s not a viable project, we’ll redevelop the site to make sure it’s viable again,” he added.
That unemotional, clear-eyed approach has been Ades’ trademark since breaking into the investment game in 2003. A teenage Ades left his home in Brazil to attend Tufts University, and decided to stay. After graduate school, he moved to Miami and went to work for Horn Eichenwald Investments. That’s where he met Saverin, a computer science major at Cornell who was then the firm’s head of software.
“They are brilliant, smart, good guys,” said Ricardo Eichenwald, the company’s owner. “It’s tough to speak about your competition, but it’s true. We were sorry to see them go, but at the same time, we cannot hold back a person with such great potential.”