Monday, July 06, 2009

More algorithm wars

Some time ago I posted about two MIT-trained former physicists who were sued by Renaissance for theft of trade secrets related to algorithmic trading and market making. Reportedly, Belopolsky and Volfbeyn won their court case and are now printing money at a well-known hedge fund. The Bloomberg article below is about a former Goldman employee who may have made off with code used in prop trading and market making.

The story is also covered in the WSJ (whose reporters and editors don't know the difference between "code" and "codes" -- as in software vs cryptographic keys), where it is revealed that Aleynikov was paid $400k per year at Goldman and left to join a fund in Chicago which offered him three times as much.

Goldman Trading-Code Investment Put at Risk by Theft
2009-07-06 23:18:39.529 GMT

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. may lose its investment in a proprietary trading code and millions of dollars from increased competition if software allegedly stolen by an ex-employee gets into the wrong hands, a prosecutor said.

Sergey Aleynikov, an ex-Goldman Sachs computer programmer, was arrested July 3 after arriving at Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S. officials said. Aleynikov, 39, who has dual American and Russian citizenship, is charged in a criminal complaint with stealing the trading software. At a court appearance July 4 in Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Facciponti told a federal judge that Aleynikov’s alleged theft poses a risk to U.S. markets. Aleynikov transferred the code, which is worth millions of dollars, to a computer server in Germany, and others may have had access to it, Facciponti said, adding that New York-based Goldman Sachs may be harmed if the software is disseminated. ...

The prosecutor added, “Once it is out there, anybody will be able to use this, and their market share will be adversely affected.” The proprietary code lets the firm do “sophisticated, high-speed and high-volume trades on various stock and commodities markets,” prosecutors said in court papers. The trades generate “many millions of dollars” each year.

... “Someone stealing that code is basically stealing the way that Goldman Sachs makes money in the equity marketplace,” said Larry Tabb, founder of TABB Group, a financial-market research and advisory firm. “The more sophisticated market makers -- and Goldman is one of them -- spend significant amounts of money developing software that’s extremely fast and can analyze different execution strategies so they can be the first one to make a decision.”

Aleynikov studied applied mathematics at the Moscow Institute of Transportation Engineering before transferring to Rutgers University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1993 and a master’s of science degree, specializing in medical image processing and neural networks, in 1996, according to his profile on the social-networking site LinkedIn.

1 comment:

Ian Smith said...

Stealing from GS is like stealing from Willy Sutton.

As smart as they are, and the yare smart, GS employees are scum.

The prop desk has absolutely zero utility for anyone other than GS.

In 2006 GS's 35,000 employees made an average $650,000 in total compensation. How many engineers and are paid as much?

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