James J. "Jim" Cramer is an American television personality, a former hedge fund manager, and a best-selling author. Cramer is the host of CNBC's Mad Money and a co-founder and chairman of TheStreet.com, Inc.
Cramer is of Jewish, Italian, Polish and Irish descent, with grandparents who held Amish and Jewish religious beliefs. He was born in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. One of his first jobs was selling ice cream at Veterans Stadium during Philadelphia Phillies games. Cramer went to Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County.
He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. in government.
Cramer started investing in the stock market during his time at law school. Early on in his career, Cramer began promoting his holdings by leaving stock picks on his answering machine, impressing The New Republic owner Martin Peretz, who gave him $500,000 to invest; Cramer earned Peretz $150,000 in two years.
His track record helped Cramer obtain employment in 1984 as a stock broker in Goldman Sachs' Private Wealth Management division. Cramer's success in this position led him to found his own hedge fund, Cramer & Co. (later Cramer, Berkowitz, & Co.), in 1987. The fund operated out of the offices of hedge fund pioneer Michael Steinhardt's Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co., and early investors included Eliot Spitzer (a Harvard classmate, one of his oldest friends, and former Governor of New York), Brill, and Peretz.
A year later, Cramer married Karen Backfisch-Olufsen, a trader with Steinhardt's firm. Cramer's fund had one down year from 1988–2000 while he ran it, in 1998, a year that was disastrous for many in the industry. Cramer, Berkowitz finished down 2–3% and they did not charge a management fee that year to their clients. In 1999 the fund returned 47%; in 2000 28%, beating the S&P 500 by 38 percentage points. Cramer retired from his hedge fund in 2001, finishing with a 24% average annual return over 14 years and having "routinely [taken] home $10 million a year and more." The fund was taken over by his former partner Jeff Berkowitz after Cramer's retirement.
Cramer claimed to be worth $50 to $100 million in October 2005. He owns stakes in TheStreet.com, Inc. and controls his charitable trust, though he does not discuss which charities receive the profits of his trading.
In 1996, Cramer co-founded TheStreet.com with The New Republic editor Martin Peretz, one of his hedge fund's original clients. Cramer is currently a market commentator and adviser to the TheStreet.com, as well as its second largest shareholder. Cramer also manages a charitable trust stock portfolio which is tied to TheStreet.com through a subscription service called the Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio. Cramer currently works on a new project, MainStreet.com. An earlier similar project, TheRoad.com, did not yield the success Cramer had anticipated, although even TheStreet.com stock has declined over 90% since its first day of trading after its IPO in 1999. In 2009, Cramer earned $461,276 from The Street.com according to the company's Proxy statement. He is the company's second largest shareholder and largest individual shareholder.