Schonfeld Bets on Masa Capital in Latest Quant Trading Push

  • Family office unit investing $100 million in Tavel’s new firm
  • Multi-asset quant fund to start trading in first half of 2017

Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, a unit of Steven Schonfeld’s family office, is ramping up its quantitative-trading ambitions.

The firm will invest $100 million initially and assist with infrastructure and personnel recruitment for newly established Masa Capital, Schonfeld Chief Investment Officer Ryan Tolkin said Wednesday in an interview. Masa will be run by Eric Tavel, former head of quantitative trading strategies for RBC Capital Markets’ proprietary trading division. Earlier, he was a portfolio manager in the quantitative investment strategies group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, where he co-ran the Global Alpha Fund.

As some computer-driven strategies have posted robust gains this year, interest in quantitative trading has grown. Tudor Investment Corp.’s Paul Tudor Jones is working to get his firm up to speed with newer technologies, while Point72’s Steve Cohen has pledged as much as $250 million to the crowd-sourced investment algorithm platform Quantopian.

Masa will focus on quantitative trading in currencies, futures and equities using statistical arbitrage and machine-learning strategies, according to Tolkin. Schonfeld’s investment in the fund, which is likely to start trading in the first half of 2017, could increase to $500 million or more eventually, he said.

“When you think about the competitors for the business, it’s probably the Two Sigmas, the D.E. Shaws, Cubist, WorldQuant, things like that,” Tolkin said. “We’ve hired four quant teams so far this year, and we’re very focused on expanding.”

Schonfeld has backed more than 40 investment teams, of which about 20 are quants, Tolkin said. The firm’s assets exceeded $12.5 billion in gross market value as of July 22, Schonfeld said in a statement.

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