How a misfit group of computer geeks transformed Wall Street (and gave us Amazon)

Thirty years ago, David Shaw started a hedge fund  that would change the world. A cerebral computer scientist, he was a pioneer in a revolution in finance that would computerize the industry, turn longstanding practices on their head and replace a culture of tough guy traders with brainy eccentrics – not just math and science geeks but musicians and writers — wearing jeans and t-shirts.

A harbinger of the techies who would storm Wall Street in a decade, this new generation of hedge fund introverts would replace the profanity-laced trading rooms of the 1980s with quiet libraries of algorithmic research into every corner of the markets. They would



also launch an early email system and look into the prospect of online retailing, leading one of Shaw’s most ambitious employees to take the idea and run with it. Yes, the seeds of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon were planted at a New York City hedge fund.

I wrote the story of D. E. Shaw’s beginnings and its importance to the city’s culture for New York , as part of the magazine’s 50th year celebration.



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