BOSTON (Reuters) - Investment firm Tiger Global Management, one of the hedge fund industry's most closely watched players, told clients that its hedge fund lost 5.3 percent during the first quarter, an investor said on Wednesday.

Much of the decline came in March when the fund lost 2.9 percent, the investor, who is not permitted to speak about the fund publicly, said. Many hedge funds are still compiling quarterly data, but so far the average hedge fund is up 2.27 percent this year, research firm Hedge Fund Research said.

Tiger Global, which has a taste for tech-oriented investments, was founded in 2001 by Chase Coleman with the backing of industry legend Julian Robertson. The firm, which also makes private equity investments, oversees roughly $16 billion in assets.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Ted Botha)