Wall Street: The quant who left Citadel for Opendoor

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Hi, Aaron Weinman here. Let's talk quantitative traders, or "quants." They're arguably Wall Street's most-prized mathematicians.

They ply their trade at hedge funds or high-frequency trading firms, and they're known to pocket a pretty penny.

Take Daniel Morillo — he spent decades developing quant-trading research but in 2020 he became chief investment officer at Opendoor Technologies, the online buyer and seller of homes.

Morillo is the latest "quantrepreneur" in Insider's series about quants who ditched Wall Street for startups.

Let's dig into his story.

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Daniel Morillo, CIO of Opendoor

1. Daniel Morillo helped supercharge the algorithmic homebuying business at Opendoor. His experience in algorithmic trading, data science, and modeling for quant-trading research has helped the antiquated online homebuying industry morph into a marketplace for a raft of property owners.

But his move to Opendoor came out of left field.

Born and raised in Ecuador, Morillo came to the US in the mid-1990s. He worked at PanAgora Asset Management, BlackRock, and in 2015 he joined Ken Griffin's Citadel. He was head of equity-quant research and had strong relationships at the hedge fund, where he managed 70 people.

And despite multiple attempts by Bay Area friends to snare Morillo's services, a move to the disruptive tech world seemed out of the question.

He was skeptical of some startups, and questioned whether they were truly innovative.

But Opendoor was different. It offered Morillo a chance to apply algorithmic trading to an industry in need of technological change.

Here's why Morillo — one of Wall Street's top quants — ditched the lucrative hedge-fund space for Opendoor, and helped turn the homebuyer into a market maker in its own right.

In other news:


2. As the crypto market dips at a mile-a-minute pace, Binance has built a 150-person investigations team. Top government agents who have taken down criminals have flocked to the crypto exchange, and here they share what it takes to get in on the secretive group.

3. Crypto lender Babel Finance has stopped letting users take out their holdings. Hong Kong-based Babel said it was freezing withdrawals due to "liquidity pressures," becoming the second platform to do this after Celsius halted withdrawals earlier this month.

4. Trading firm Jump, however, is doing the opposite to most crypto businesses. Jump Crypto is hiring, not firing folks, and everyone's energized as summer interns arrive, according to Bloomberg.

5. Deutsche Bank has started installing Movius, an app that helps track communications, on its bankers' phones, the Financial Times reported. The installation is in response to regulatory probes that have bankers fretting over how they use their cell phones, particularly communications on unauthorized messaging apps like WhatsApp.

6. Klarna is in talks with investors about a deal that values the firm at about $15 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. The valuation — a significant dip from $46 billion last June — comes after the BNPL fintech laid off about 10% of its staff in May.

7. Slaughter and May is letting its lawyers bring their doggos to work. The London-based "magic circle" firm is implementing the pooch policy amid a tussle for top legal talent.

8. On the subject of pets, Lex the horse was seized in a tax fraud case. But it was sold back to its owner after the authorities realized how costly it is to maintain a stallion.

9. A former partner at Apollo talked about the inner workings of private equity. But in the book "Two and Twenty," the author failed to support his argument with the relevant data, Jonathan A. Knee writes in this Insider opinion piece.

10. Wall Streeters are back on the road and are rekindling their love for frequent-flyer programs. Here are a few reviews, offers, and rewards for 21 of the best credit cards of June 2022.

Done deal:

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Curated by Aaron Weinman in New York. Tips? Email aweinman@insider.com or tweet @aaronw11. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb and Lisa Ryan in New York.

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