As co-founder, principal and board member of Fortress Investment Group, Wesley “Wes” Robert Edens has established himself as one of the nation’s premier businessmen and investors, being responsible for Fortress’ private equity and alternative investment dealings. Holder of a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Business Administration from Oregon State University, Edens launched his career with stints at Lehman Brothers and BlackRock Asset Investors, becoming partner and managing director at both institutions. He would launch Fortress Investment Group in 1998 with five other principals; upon debuting on the New York Stock Exchange nine years later, the New York City-based firm made history as the first private equity firm with substantial holdings to be traded publicly.
In the midst of the subprime mortgage crisis of the late 2000s that saw the firm’s stock price take a major hit, Fortress was shielded from financial jeopardy as a result of a substantial rise in the value of its majority stake in commercial real estate company Springfield Holdings, a majority stake that was purchased in 2010 on the advice of Edens. Fortress’ starting investment of $124 million would eventually grow to more than $3.5 billion dollars, for a more than 2700% hike in value. Today, Fortress employs more than 900 people and manages assets for almost 2,000 clients across the world, assets that boast a combined value of nearly $44 billion. Beyond his decades-long work at Fortress, Edens chairs the boards of a number of financial organizations like Springleaf Finance, New Media Investment Group and Florida East Coast Holdings, amongst many others.
With a net worth of $2.5 billion and take-home pay of more than $50 million a year, Edens has ranked as high as number 369 on the Forbes’ Billionaires List. In addition to his accomplishments in business and finance, Edens is a noted figure in the world of sports and eSports. He is the co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, having purchased the team in 2014 for $550 million along with Avenue Capital Group CEO Marc Lasry. As owners, Edens and Lasry have won plaudits for their intent to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee and the progress made on their soon-to-be-completed $500 million multi-purpose arena for use by the Bucks. Edens is also the sole owner of professional eSports team FlyQuest, which compete in League of Legends and Rocket League .