Electronic job

When leaving a Citadel Quantum Job at the wrong time

Neel Somani seems to have been the victim of bad timing. For 18 months from September 2020, he worked for hedge fund Citadel as quantity developer in Chicago, building tools for the Office of Raw Materials. But last year, Somani had the kind of great idea that makes you want to quit your job at a hedge fund and go it alone.

Somani’s brilliant idea, explained in his Blog, was to build an Ethereum virtual machine on TerraUSD, the cryptocurrency token that was supposed to be pegged to the US dollar. He leaves Citadel in February and, his new company TerraNova financing is ready to go. TerraUSD, however, is in tatters. “I quit my job at Citadel to get shipwrecked in web3,” Somani says on Twitter, though it’s unclear if Citadel let him go. It’s also unclear how much Somani earned at Citadel, but Levelsfyi suggests that $250,000 might be somewhat modest.

To like Michael Roberts, the former head of Bank of America’s EMEA prime brokerage business who left for crypto custodial firm Copper in March, Somani says he has no regrets about breaking away from traditional finance. Funding for TerraNova is no longer viable, but Somani says he already has another idea in the works. “I’m excited to continue building in crypto,” he tells us.

Somani may not be ready to return to finance, but finance companies and their recruiters are already detecting opportunity in the current tech, fintech and crypto rout. As tech stocks plunge, tech companies are cutting headcount and hiring. Meta, Uber and Twitter froze hiring. Emilie Choi, President and Chief Operating Officer of Coinbase, said today that Coinbase would “slow down hiring” in order to “reprioritize … hiring needs against our highest priority business goals.” Fintechs love Robinhood and Main Street are throwing staff overboard in an effort to cut costs.

The pain is palpable on Blind, the forum’s technology-focused website. “Some of you have never had to look for a job like a normal person and it shows. Hiring is slowing down a bit and y’all are freaking out,” says a poster working for Arora, a self-driving platform based in California.

As tech and fintech recruiters swoon, finance recruiters prepare to pounce. Many developers and quants working for big tech, fintech, or crypto companies could just as easily work in financial services. An example of this is Somani, who spent a year as a software engineer at Airbnb before joining Citadel. In the same way, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs both lost staff to Coinbase. Now looks like a good time to win them back again.

In this sense, the technological crash looks like an opportunity. Big banks are still in dire need of tech staff: Goldman has 418 vacancies to fill; JPMorgan has 5,591; Morgan Stanley has 1,333. Citadel Securities is looking for C++ coders, quantitative developers and Python engineers.

Vikram Tandon, head of New York-based recruiting firm Tardis Group, says the tech and fintech sectors are suddenly open to funding firms. Tandon works with hedge funds and electronic market makers. “Our clients are calling us and telling us they’d like to see the talent from these tech companies. There’s been a definite increase in those requests.”

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picture by Justus Menke on Unsplash