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Steve Cohen Gets Kick From Scaring The Hell Out Of Cash-Strapped Entrepreneurs

Steve Cohen Gets Kick From Scaring The Hell Out Of Cash-Strapped Entrepreneurs

Hi. I’m Steve. Want a hot dog?

You’ve been honing your pitch. Practicing your answers to the likely questions in the mirror. Poring through your deck, making sure every little thing is perfect. You think you’ve got a billion-dollar idea. Maybe it’s a blockchain play. Or a way to trick poor young people into playing the stock market. Or a crowd-sourced algorithmic-trading venture. Or a way to have autonomous cars not kill people.

You’ve spent hours rehearsing the details of your plan with some ominous-sounding folks. But now you’ve flown in from Silicon Valley or driven up to Stamford for a chance to convince the principals. You slowly pass down a stone-wall-lined street, along which sit a few low-slung suburban office buildings. You near the water, hang a left into the specified parking lot and are escorted into a conference room. There’s a long wooden table with a downtrodden-looking investment team, sitting on both sides, and a tall, leather-backed chair, turned away from you, at its head. You plug your laptop into the video system and bring up the first card of your deck. The high-back chair turns and you swallow hard.

While Granade said deal sizes range from $250,000 to $10 million, it’s not just about the money for Cohen, who’s worth $12.1 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. Cohen has a “soft spot” for those entrepreneurs with a passion to excel and shares almost a kinship with them, Granade said.

“These are not huge checks we are writing,” Granade said. “But Steve is involved in everyone of them. He meets with almost every company we invest in. He enjoys spending time with them. And in every deal he hears the pitch.”

Of course, some people know what they’re getting into when summoned to 72 Cummings Point Road.

The venture-capital arm of Mr. Cohen’s firm, Point72 Asset Management LP, was the first investor in Imperative Execution Inc., said representatives of the two firms.… The startup is set to launch a new “dark pool” trading platform designed to counter the impact of certain high-speed trading strategies….

Imperative founder and Chief Executive Roman Ginis previously worked as a quantitative trader for Mr. Cohen’s firm, applying statistical models to trade stocks. He said he waged a daily battle to prevent slippage from hurting his profits…. Mr. Ginis, who has a PhD in computer science from the California Institute of Technology, previously worked for Cubist Systematic Strategies, the quant-trading business of Point72. He said he got the idea for IntelligentCross while working for Cubist as a “medium-frequency” trader—with algorithms that involved holding stocks for a day or two.

Point72 Ventures now has its eye on the benighted east, which should keep Steve plenty busy should the hedge fund or V.A. secretary things not work out.

Asia presents a chance to “swing big” because it’s unburdened by technological infrastructure, particularly in financial services, said Matthew Granade, who oversees investments at the venture-capital arm of Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management. Many parts of the developed world, such as the U.S., spent decades to build such infrastructure, making it harder for them to adapt, he said.

“Here, when suddenly you have a huge population moving into the middle class that was never served before and no technologies that were available to support them, you could just build from scratch and leapfrog,” Pete Casella, who leads the venture capital firm’s investments in financial services technologies, said during an interview he gave together with Granade last month in Singapore.

Steve Cohen Heads East to ‘Swing Big’ With Venture Investments [Bloomberg]
Steven Cohen Targets High-Frequency Trading With ‘Dark Pool’ Venture [WSJ]

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