David Shaw, Founder and chief executive DE Shaw & Co
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David Shaw, Founder and chief executive DE Shaw & Co

David Shaw, sometimes described as the Bill Gates of computer finance, runs what is probably the most technologically sophisticated firm on Wall Street. Over the past decade DE Shaw & Co has grown with lightning speed by using arcane mathematical and computational techniques to spot tiny market inconsistencies, then trading them off against each other at the lowest possible transaction cost.

While other high-tech private trading firms such as O'Connor Associates and Chicago Research & Trading have sold out to large banks, Shaw has chosen a strategic alliance (in March) with Bank of America, with the aim of selling his firm's product capability - initially in equity derivatives - to Bank of America's 20,000 corporate customers.

Shaw's headquarters occupy the top nine floors of a skyscraper near Times Square. The decor of shiny black floors and cut-out walls bathed in reflected light - designed to evoke the feeling of sitting inside a computer chip - featured in a major architectural exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art last year.

Founded in 1988, DE Shaw & Co has 650 employees (in offices in New York, Boston, London, Tokyo and Hyderabad), many of them computer prodigies like Shaw himself who have been tracked through their high-flying academic careers by the firm's rigorous recruiting programme.

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