Jim Atkinson says he took a risk last month when he resigned as managing director of Investec Asset Management US Limited of Pasadena, Calif., to become the president of MaxFunds.com, an eight month-old Internet start up.

While Atkinson's reason might be questioned, he sees the move as a calculated risk, but one that has tremendous potential and, more importantly, one that fits his character. Still, the company he left was, by comparison to the world of Internet start ups, a stable place. Although the firm has only $500 million in assets under management, its parent company, based in Johannesburg, South Africa has $25 billion and 90 funds worldwide.

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