With performance falling, investors fleeing and offices closing, hedge funds had a rough 2016.
But San Francisco-based Numerai was just getting started.
Instead of relying on the genius of a single person or small team, the firm uses encrypted data sets to crowdsource stock market prediction models built with artificial intelligence from 12,000 anonymous data scientists worldwide who compete to win bitcoin.
And if that flew over your head, the main takeaways are that this hedge fund has orders of magnitude more data scientists trying to improve its investing strategy than the biggest name hedge funds today, and what makes the firm possible is a confluence of technologies that didn’t even exist a few years ago — primarily in cryptography and artificial intelligence.
Now the one-year-old company, founded by 29-year-old South African Richard Craib (a Forbes 30 Under 30 designee) and funded by the likes of Union Square Ventures, is launching its own cryptocurrency, the Numeraire.
It is the first virtual currency issued by a hedge fund and one of the first released by a company (rather than a group of developers or a non-profit).
Craib says the Numeraire helps solve a fundamental problem in finance. “Finance is totally competitive right now. There’s no reason why you’d want to help your friend with a hedge fund if you have a hedge fund,” he says. “But if you both held the same cryptocurrency, and it went up in value together, maybe there would be more collaboration.” He believes the currency will incentivize the data scientists to make better stock market prediction models, thereby improving the hedge fund’s performance and returning more wealth to its anonymous workforce.
While Craib won’t reveal performance numbers or assets under management, USV was sufficiently impressed to lead a $6 million round this past fall. The company also received $1.5 million in seed funding, ...