It’s All Good on Bad Company

It’s All Good on Bad Company

For Anthony Hsieh, life boils down to two things: mortgages and marlin.

By Bobbi Dempsey February 2005


 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Bad Company
• Part 2: Bad Company

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Anthony Hsieh realized it is possible to get too much of a good thing.

A pioneer in the online lending world, Hsieh (pronounced “Shay”) founded Loans Direct, then sold it to E*Trade in 2001 and retired at the ripe old age of 35. Hsieh had two great passions, the online mortgage business and sportfishing. Having retired at such a young age, he envisioned spending decades just blissfully coasting around the world, fishing wherever his heart desired.

“I fished almost every day,” Hsieh recalls. “First in Southern California, then the Mexican Coast, Cabo San Lucas—anywhere I wanted to go.”

Family and friends would fly in and out, spending a few days with Hsieh wherever he happened to be. Hsieh recalls one memorable highlight: “My wife, Leah, who is all of 5'1" and barely over 100 pounds, caught this big 764-pound black marlin all by herself. That was pretty exciting.”

It was paradise—but, as Hsieh would soon discover, only to a point. Sometimes it really is possible to have too much of a good thing. “I decided that fishing is fantastic, but not so much fun if you do it every day,” he says. “Plus, all of my friends still had jobs, so they could only visit for a few days at a time. Fortunately, I have a good crew with great people, and we interact well. But I guess I missed the corporate world. So I went back to work.”

Hsieh, now 39, returned to the online lending business, this time starting another company in 2002 called “So now I enjoy both my passions—fishing and mortgages. You need a little bit of balance between the two, to make both of them more enjoyable. So here we go again.”

Still, as much as Hsieh loves his company, which has funded more than $3 billion in loans and grown to a nearly 700-strong workforce, it’s not all work and no play for the devoted fisherman. “I typically spend 60 to 70 days a year on the water,” he says. Given his quest for success in the office, it should come as no surprise that Hsieh exhibits the same drive to excel on the ocean. While he might catch a 500-pound marlin during a day at sea, Hsieh will still be scanning the waters all the way home, searching for a bigger catch.

The seas are a lot less rocky when you travel in the kind of style Hsieh does. He owns three boats, including a 40-foot Black Watch, kept near his home in Orange County, as well as a 54-foot Bertram that he docks in San Diego. Then there’s the jewel of his nautical fleet: a Tournament 60 Hatteras called Bad Company.

Arguably one of the best-outfitted sportfishermen ever constructed, and with tournament prize winnings totaling $650,000, Bad Company is 50 tons of gold-standard, top-of-the-line luxury fishing at its finest. “I was in the market for a new boat,” Hsieh recalls, “and we thought the 60 looked like it had good bones, a good skeleton that we could work with.” He bought the boat new in 2001 for $1.9 million and immediately splurged on another $600,000 worth of customization. Since then, he has continued to add more and more big-ticket bells and whistles to Bad Company, to the tune of about $2.6 million.

Next page > Part 2: “I’m unusual among my fellow yacht owners. Most of them bought their boats after they acquired their wealth. I’ve been fishing since before I had a cent.” > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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