Here at Evolutionary Tree Capital Management, innovation-focused investing is what we do. We also believe the best partnerships are built upon strong relationships between people. This is why we have penned a “Meet the Team” blog series which is designed to help you to get to know us better.
Behind the Portfolio: Thomas Ricketts, CFA
Meet Thomas (“Tom”) Ricketts, President, CIO and Portfolio Manager at Evolutionary Tree. Over his 22-year investment career, Mr. Ricketts developed significant expertise in portfolio management, investment research, and executive management. Prior to founding Evolutionary Tree, Mr. Ricketts was a Sr. Portfolio Manager on Sands Capital’s flagship Select Growth US Large-Cap Growth strategy, a $20+ billion concentrated strategy of high-quality, sustainable growth businesses. Mr. Ricketts was one of the longest-tenured investment professionals at Sands Capital. Here is a quick and fun Q&A to get to know Tom better.
Favorite sport or activity to play? Mostly playing with my kids!
What is your favorite food? When you have travelled as much as I have, both for business and pleasure, you are introduced to a lot of different cuisine. This makes a single choice almost impossible. But if I think about my favorite cuisine by region, a few meals come to mind. For American fare, I love Boston seafood and, more specifically, “lobsta.” For European cuisine, finding a family-run Italian restaurant a few blocks away from the piazza is usually a great experience (and a good value). For Asian, I love sushi, though I have a funny story about eating at a restaurant in Roppongi in Tokyo, Japan. The chef offered a “sushi tasting” of his top 10 sushi offerings. While this sounded good, it got more exotic as the dishes kept coming, and I think I made it to plate five before having to (respectfully) stop. Luckily, I had a colleague with me that was more than happy to add my plates to his, thus ensuring the chef wasn’t disrespected. Both stomach and face was saved!
Where is your favorite place that you have visited? The Glendalough (pronounced glenda-lock) Monastic Site in Ireland is definitely a favorite place of mine from past travels. This is a site nestled in the Wicklow Mountains, not far from Dublin, with a history that goes back to the 6th century when St. Kevin founded the monastic settlement. Over the next 600 years, it was slowly built into a small city, before invasions by Vikings finally sent the monks fleeing. Travelling to the site is a special experience as mist hangs over the monastic ruins at the base of a mountain range. These mountains lulled me into a “short stroll” that ended up turning into a 5-hour hike up to the top of the mountain and back. Needless to say, the view of the ruins below was breathtaking.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? It would be truly inspirational to visit the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador. Flora and fauna that found their way to the islands eons ago have evolved and adapted in so many unique ways, which would be fascinating to see up close. The iguanas evolved an ability to stay under water for as long as an hour, searching for algae to eat. The giant tortoises are not only large
(up to 900 pounds), but on average live over 100 years, one of the longest-living creatures on earth. They also demonstrate the theory of evolution, as a common ancestor branched out onto different islands, creating 13 species that have different shapes according to the type of food and island they live on.
And, possibly the most famous of the Galapagos fauna (at least in scientific circles) are the so-called “Darwin finches.” Charles Darwin brought back a variety of finches that upon later analysis showed them to be different species, each exquisitely adapted to different types of food. There are 13 different species of finches on the islands, with some evolving to eat insects, others that eat seeds, and ones that focus on certain shrubs. This diversification of food source allows these species to co-exist on the islands. Insights drawn from these observations were a key inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Outside our industry, who inspires you and why? John F. Kennedy’s challenge to get to the moon and back within a decade was inspiring for the audaciousness of the goal. It is also a great model for what you look for in organizations that can accomplish great things – big vision, defined goals, and stretch deadlines. Kennedy laid down the gauntlet and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin put down the flag on the moon by 1969. The journey to the moon and back is easily one of the most inspiring periods in our history for me. It wasn’t just the actual landing on the moon; rather, it was the meticulous planning, coordination, leadership, and most importantly, the innovation, behind the scenes over many years that made it happen.
Favorite quote? I have two favorite quotes. The first is from Charles Darwin as written in the Origin of Species:
“It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been and are being, evolved.”
I believe that this process of variation, selection, and progress also plays out across the economy too, as innovations are developed, compete in the marketplace, and ultimately push the innovation frontier forward. This is the essence of progress, and it is built on innovation and evolution. My second favorite quote is from John F. Kennedy on the moon mission:
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
We hope you have enjoyed getting to know Tom a bit more. If you would like to ask him any additional questions, please feel free to send us a note. Also, be sure to sign up today to stay informed of when new articles are released.