Alternative Data Weekly Newsletter Archives

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A curated digest of must-read news from around the internet about alternative data. Join the buy-side professionals already reading the Alternative Data Weekly.

January 2019

PE firms to step up use of alt data

IntelAlley

Private equity has been lagging in the adoption of non-traditional data. But its growing acceptance is driving increased consideration of its use. Only one in four PE firms currently use alt data, but another 25% expect to use it in the near future, based on a new survey by Fox Chase Advisors. Read More

‘Businesses will not be able to hide’: spy satellites may give edge from above

New York Times

Over 2,000 cube satellites will be launched into orbit in the next decade, producing mountains of data and creating an $11 billion market. But some investment firms still think of it as a “narrow niche” and the data provided is not yet as useful as what we can find here on earth. Read More

We analyzed 16,625 papers to figure out where AI is headed next

MIT Technology Review

The MIT Tech Review’s look at 25 years of AI research suggests the era of deep learning is coming to an end. After a shift toward machine learning in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and a rise in the popularity of neural networks beginning in the early 2010s, the current growth area is reinforcement learning. Read More

Alt data nuclear arms race may be looming

CFA Institute

If alternative data is only used for alpha generation, it could lead to the investment industry equivalent of a nuclear arms race, says Ashby Monk, Director of the Stanford Global Projects Center. His suggestion: use the information to avoid capital loss, slowly and patiently. Read More

Is there really wisdom in the crowd?

Knowledge@Wharton

With predictive analytics, companies rely on aggregated data to help them with almost everything. But can firms trust the wisdom of the crowd? New research suggests that you often get better and more accurate results by going with answers that are “surprisingly popular” rather than those that are “most popular”. Read More

Realizing their data has value, consumers begin to demand a cut

Canadian Press

People are increasingly aware that their personal information has a monetary value, and they are starting want a share. But consumers often have an overinflated understanding of the value of personal data, assuming their individual info is desirable when organizations only want it in the aggregate. Read More

StarCraft is a deep, complicated, strategy game. Google’s AI crushed it

Vox

Lots of people are worried that AI is coming for their jobs — Uber and Lyft drivers, receptionists, even attorneys and software engineers. A remarkable exhibition match suggests that another group that should be worried is … pro video gamers? Read More

Top 10 M&A deals revealed by corporate jet monitoring

Quandl

Quandl’s Corporate Aviation Intelligence – which tracks the private jet flights of over 9,000 firms – provided investors with advance indication of many of 2018’s most significant M&A deals. Here are the 10 largest. Read More

How firms value alternative datasets

Global Banking & Finance Review

To see which alternative datasets are most valued most today, and what data is expected to be valuable in the future, FactSet and Coleman Parkes surveyed alt-data users from 50 hedge funds and global institutional investors. Read More

Shutdown deprives Fed of essential data

Bloomberg (subscription)

Timely information on economic growth, jobs, consumer spending and inflation is crucial to monetary policy making. Now, the longest government shutdown on record has cut the Fed’s access to many of these key numbers. Separately, in a January 18 speech, New York Fed chief John Williams says the central bank is increasingly looking beyond official data on GDP, inflation, and employment and is increasingly considering alternative data sources. Read More

New chapters in innovation and disruption will be written in 2019

Adena Friedman, LinkedIn

Ahead of the World Economic Forum, the Nasdaq CEO considers investment and technology trends that may dominate in the coming year. Read More

How Tesla layoffs could have been predicted

Thinknum

In his letter announcing a 7% staff cut, Elon Musk brought up several numbers when describing the company’s growth. Thinknum fact-checked his claims and dove into data to answer whether the layoffs could have been anticipated. Read More

There is a specter haunting Europe – the specter of data privacy regulation

Multiple sources

A number of stories this past week strongly indicate that we’ll see a lot more data regulation in 2019. Germany’s antitrust regulator is dissecting Facebook’s entire business model. London’s FCA is set to make it tougher for hedge funds to access poll data. Multinational law firm Baker McKenzie provides an infographic on how a no-deal Brexit may impact data protection. In Davos, a day after being fined US$57m over privacy, Google’s CFO says data is more like sunlight than oil (signalling, perhaps, fear that the company could be broken up like Standard Oil was in the early 20th century). Meanwhile across the pond, Apple’s Tim Cook has called for FTC to establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring them to let consumers track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data.

Smells like teen spirit: How 2018 for data was like 1991 for rock

Suburbia

Oh well. Whatever. Nevermind. Read More

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman to headline Quandl Data Conference

Quandl

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman will headline this year’s Quandl Data Conference. In a candid conversation, she will share her thoughts on analytics, market technology, and how data-driven investing is the future of active management. Read More

JPMorgan economists see promise and pitfalls in alt data

Bloomberg (subscription)

Data from new technologies can offer visibility into activity that traditional measures miss, and with a shorter lag. And the benefits may be clearest in emerging economies where traditional data is weak, a report from JPMorgan economists says. Read More

Blackrock, AQR, State Street to cut jobs

Bloomberg (subscription)

Asset managers and banks are under pressure as volatility roils global markets; the $3 trillion hedge fund market has been hit hard as performance sank and funds closed last year. One recruiter thinks more shakeout lays ahead. Read More

Data firms buck cryptocurrency bear market

New Money Review

While cryptocurrency exchanges, trading firms and investment funds lay off staff in droves, one sector is bucking the last year’s savage bear market: data provision and analytics for cryptocurrency markets. Read More

Why data privacy is hot and machine learning is not

The Next Web

The current zeitgeist indicates that data privacy may underpin innovation and technological advancement in 2019. The author argues that this could dampen innovation in data-hungry machine learning operations. Read More

Alternative data in action: web-scraping

Greenwich Associates

Greenwich Associates research shows that 50% of institutional investors plan to increase their usage of alternative data in the coming year. Among the various types of alternative data available, web-scraped data is the most popular. Read More

Alternative data gets a number-crunch

The Asset

As competitive pressures fuel a rapid increase in the use of alternative data, such as location data, many end users are calling for greater transparency from data providers. Read More

Alt-data firm’s 2018 stock picks beat the market

Barron’s (subscription)

To demonstrate the predictive power of its trend-spotting tool, fintech startup Sentieo publishes a list of stock recommendations each year. In 2018, its 16 recommended stocks rose 25.4% on average, handily beating the S&P 500’s 6.2% decline. Read More

The exaggerated promise of so-called unbiased data mining

Wired

In a review of 2018 hedge fund performance, CNBC found that investors chose quant funds and larger, established names will be pleasantly surprised in what was otherwise a challenging year in a variety of markets. Read More

How ‘algos’ changed the rhythm of the market

Financial Times (subscription)

There has been a flurry of finger-pointing by one-time masters of the universe who argue that the swelling influence of computer-powered quant investors and high-frequency traders is wreaking havoc on markets and rendering old-fashioned analysis and common sense obsolete. Read More

Hedge funds have lost their rhythm, and that’s fine

Bloomberg (subscription)

In a counterpoint to the above FT article, Bloomberg’s Matt Levine argues that fund managers who complain about losing their mojo are whining about something that’s generally beneficial. If markets are more difficult to anticipate because of algorithmic trading, that’s a good thing. Read More

Lessons from history on the dangers of blind trust in data

Financial Times

Businesses and government are learning that the information they collect can mislead. Correlations are sometimes spurious, incentives can be gamed, and data can be, and often is, deceptive. Read More

Will machine learning transform finance?

Yale Insights

Charles Elkan, Goldman Sachs’ global head of machine learning, talks to The Yale School of Management about about how financial services firms are capitalizing on the new era of data. Read More

The business case for alternative data

Adena Friedman, LinkedIn

Following the exchange’s Quandl acquisition, Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman explains the value of alternative data. Read More

The hedge funds that are doing the most hiring right now

eFinancialCareers

Alternative data provider Thinknum went to LinkedIn to pull out some recent figures for big-name hedge funds, looking at total headcount during the third quarter and comparing it to the end of the year. Read More

A data privacy lawsuit may have implications for investors

Barron’s

A new lawsuit against an app-maker that collects location information could impact investors ability to use new kinds of data – like cellphone location information and credit card transaction stats – to gain insights about consumer behavior that will help them pick stocks. Read More

The six most useful machine learning projects of 2018

Towards Data Science

The most useful ML projects of 2018 may not be the most theoretically groundbreaking works, but they are relevant and practical. Read More

Quant funds among winners in a year with many losers

CNBC

In a review of 2018 hedge fund performance, CNBC found that investors chose quant funds and larger, established names will be pleasantly surprised in what was otherwise a challenging year in a variety of markets. Read More

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