After creating the biggest and most successful bond fund in the world over thirty years, Bill Gross devised a swift exit. With his deputies at PIMCO threatening to leave and management discussing his removal, Gross was losing control of the $2 trillion company he built almost on his own.

He picked up the phone and cold-called DoubleLine Capital LP, asking for Jeffrey Gundlach, a money manager with a personality as big as his own, to discuss joining the much smaller crosstown competitor. The talks didn’t go anywhere and Gross agreed to run a startup fund with no assets at Janus Capital Group Inc., a struggling stock-fund manager 1,000 miles away in Denver led by his former employee.

Michael Rosen, chief investment officer at Santa Monica, California-based Angeles Investment Advisors, had one word for the move: “Stunning.”

The surprise decision by 70-year-old Gross, whose personal wealth is estimated at $2 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, marks a turning point in one of the most remarkable careers in money management. Gross personally oversaw more money than any investor on the planet, and was synonymous with the firm he co-founded in 1971, until his main fund started to trail peers and his leadership style attracted scrutiny.