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.

February 2019

Nasdaq CEO says it’s time for corporate America to get in on alt data

Business Insider (subscription)

Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, speaking at today’s Quandl Data Conference, says there are alternative-data use cases for big non-finance companies. She says the exchange hopes to leverage its relationships with firms on its exchanges to promote use of data for R&D and market research. Read More

Without permission, apps send Facebook highly sensitive personal info

Wall Street Journal (subscription)

The social-media giant collects intensely personal information from many popular apps, even if users have no connection to Facebook, according to testing done by the WSJ. The report comes as Facebook faces heavy regulatory scrutiny over how it treats user data. Read More

Bloomberg jumps into the alternative data biz

Integrity Research

Bloomberg’s entry into alt data will expand investor access to alternative data and give vendors distribution. Still, Bloomberg is a latecomer to the alt-data game as several other firms have already launched data marketplaces, are farther along with data sources, and boast analytical features. Read More

Facebook to launch long-awaited ‘clear history’ feature


Facebook will launch its ‘clear history’ feature this year, allowing users to see and delete information about apps and web sites they’ve interacted with. This will make it harder to use third-party data for targeted ads. Read More

A big data strategy is key to achieve greater alpha


Investors can capitalize on big- and alt-data analysis, but increasing data volumes can create problems. Overanalysis can lead to paralysis, and big data can drain resources if not used properly. Data scientists and quants share strategies for success. Read More

How to get the best results from big data analysis


In this podcast, managerial economics and decision sciences specialist Scott E. Page explains how using many models is the best way to make sense out of the reams of data available in today’s digital world – and why it’s important to widen your data lens. Read More

Using search intelligence as alt data


One of the most popular types of alt data is consumer transactions. The author illustrates how analysts can gauge brand sentiment by keeping sight of search. Read More

An alternative-data profile of Pinterest as it preps for IPO


Pinterest reportedly filed to go public this year. Using years of alternative data across multiple metrics, here’s a closer look at the company before it hits the market. Read More

The age of the quant is coming to an end


Ten years ago, quants needed deep knowledge of mathematical techniques to do the job. Today it’s much less groundbreaking. Quants have been dumbed down and most offer no more than a hygiene function, a 20-year industry veteran argues. Read More

California governor wants Silicon Valley to pay you a data dividend


Big Tech companies profit richly from user data. California Governor Gavin Newsom thinks some of that cash should be returned to users as a “data dividend.” Read More

Quandl to debut e-commerce insights platform at QDC19

Business Wire

Quandl will introduce a new proprietary e-commerce Insights platform at its February 28 conference (get tickets). The platform will offer daily product-level and SKU-level transaction data to financial professionals. Read More

Bloomberg diving into alt data

Business Insider (subscription)

Hedge funds are increasingly turning to alternative data to identify trends before their competitors, but some managers are wading into potentially risky territory as they seek out cutting-edge data. Lawyers say a few steps can protect managers, including questioning a data provider’s sources. Read More

Alternative data shows travel firms hammered by shutdown

Barron’s (subscription)

Alternative data shows that rental-car companies, airlines and hotels saw a sharp drop in business during the recent US government shutdown. Read More

UBS Asset Management data science head talks alt data and AI

Waters Technology

In this podcast, Bryan Cross, head Quantitative Evidence and Data Science at UBS Asset Management, details why the firm created the unit, what the bank is doing in the alternative data space, and shares advice for up-and-coming data scientists. Read More

How elite investors use AI and machine learning to gain an edge


Institutional investors are better able to harness the power of AI thanks to improvements in processing power. Watch for the next disruption to further the evolution of the industry: quantum computing. Read More

Data business Hivemind gains Barclays and Fidelity backing


Hivemind, a data company spun out of hedge fund Winton Group, received backing from investment bank Barclays and asset manager Fidelity in its latest funding round. Financial details were not disclosed. Read More

VCs invest billions in advanced tech firms, but don’t yet use it

Institutional Investor

Venture capital managers invested more than $24.6 billion in AI and machine learning companies last year, but less than a quarter of those managers actually used such technology in their own business. That may be changing. Read More

Which Wall Street jobs are hot in 2019

Business Insider (subscription)

Wall Street recruiters say there remains in an insatiable appetite for quants, data scientists, and coding skills. But that doesn’t mean fundamental skills have gone out of fashion. Read More

How AI will go out of control according to 52 experts

CB Insights

“AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.” – Sam Altman, president Y Combinator and co-chair of OpenAI Read More

Data alternatives, and alternative data, to use during US government shutdowns


Another US government shutdown may start tomorrow (Feb 15), so analysts, economists, and other data-dependent specialists may be again in need of reliable alternatives to critical government data. Quandl has a selection of proxies for official datasets that may be impacted. Read More

Hedge funds fear a crackdown on alt data

Business Insider (subscription)

Hedge funds are increasingly turning to alternative data to identify trends before their competitors, but some managers are wading into potentially risky territory as they seek out cutting-edge data. Lawyers say a few steps can protect managers, including questioning a data provider’s sources. Read More

You have to know whose data you’re using

Bloomberg (subscription)

Regarding the above article, Bloomberg’s Matt Levine argues that getting information and incorporating it into prices is the point of capital markets, and that criminalizing differentiated research would be a mistake. “What is bad is having information that you got from someone without their permission.” Read More

Quants struggle to extract alpha from ‘noisy’ data (subscription)

Quants are still struggling to extract alpha from big and alternative datasets, despite heavy investment in data science.  The problem, according to Man Group‘s Michelle McCloskey, is noisy data. Read More

Goldman and Citi Make $20m venture bet on alt data


Getting data earlier than most can be the edge needed for a winning investment, that’s what Goldman Sachs and Citi Ventures are betting on with Second Measure (a lightning round provider at our first conference back in 2017!). Read More

Hedge funds to spend $2 billion on web-scraping software

Business Insider (subscription)

One out every 20 web page visits last year was done by a hedge fund or sell-side research institution scraping websites for information, according to a new report by Opimas. We find this hard to believe too. Read More

Franklin Templeton broadens push into data science

Institutional Investor

The San Mateo fund manager has added to its data strategy by partnering with Elsen, a provider of software for portfolio managers. The move comes while traditional firms race to catch up as the line between fundamental and quant research continues to blur. Read More

Eternal market patience offers eternal rewards

Bloomberg (subscription)

Quants are mining ever-greater mounds of data in search of patterns, and the latest entry to the field is remarkable. A group of quants at Dutch investment house Robeco have produced research into the global performance of stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities going back to 1800. Read More

Japan sets sights on tighter anti-trust regulations for Big Tech


Japan’s government plans to set up a new watchdog to scrutinize tech companies like Facebook and Google amid growing concerns about monopoly practices and the handling of personal data. Read More

The information ‘blind spots’ fund managers must address

Wealth Manager (subscription)

How are major wealth management firms using data to address blind spots? Alternative-data leaders at Schroders and Blackrock provide examples how their teams are successfully using non-traditional data outside of the oft-repeated alpha case. Read More

Quants use AI to cut through murk of ‘sustainability’ (subscription)

This group of quants is convinced that machine learning can be used to separate hype from reality when it comes to the murky world of ESG. Read More

Financial AI pioneer makes grim prediction on quant jobs


Marcos López de Prado, head of machine learning at AQR Capital, argues that the fundamental quantitative process in use today is broken, and we’re setting quants up to fail. He believes funds would get better results by making their quants less autonomous and more like cogs in a machine. Read More

What’s behind JPMorgan’s big bet on artificial intelligence


When America’s biggest bank hired Google exec Apoorv Saxena as its global head of AI and machine-learning, it was making a bet on technology leading its future strategies. Saxena tells Wharton about plans to use AI across the bank – in investments, product development, and more. Read More

Python or R? Which is best for data science in finance?


If you want to start an argument between two financial data scientists, ask them which coding language they prefer to use: R or Python? This article lays out key pros and cons of each. Read More

SBAI publishes standardised trial data license agreement


The standard-setting body for the alternative investment industry, has published the Standardized Trial Data License Agreement, which addresses issues investment managers face when trialling new data sources, especially alternative data. Read More

Pagaya announces first $100 million ABS fully managed by AI

Associated Press

Pagaya, a global fintech company using AI in asset management, announced $100 million in actively managed asset-backed securities. For the ABS, Pagaya will use AI to select and purchase individual loans. Read More

Zuckerburg’s ex-mentor, early Facebook investor, now pushes for regulation


Silicon Valley veteran Roger McNamee – an early investor in Facebook and former mentor to Mark Zuckerberg – now sees the social-media platform and other tech giants as a monstrous threat to democracy. He’s started advising those who would regulate the internet’s giants. Read More

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