Eyeing the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry from their desks at high-frequency trading firm Optiver, Evgeny Gaevoy and his co-founders believed they identified one glaring inefficiency: a lack of market liquidity. Such was the inspiration for Wintermute Trading, a crypto market making firm designed to provide volumes for exchanges, coin developers and investors. Wintermute, which hopes to “professionalize” the largely unregulated crypto market making space, is now firmly in growth mode. The London-based company is actively looking to hire developers and will bring on a team of quant traders next year.
“We started with proprietary trading, built our own algorithms and infrastructure, and then expanded into services for ICOs (initial coin offerings) and exchanges,” according to Gaevoy, who headed up Optiver’s ETF business before launching Wintermute in 2017 alongside fellow co-founders and Optimer alums Harro Mantel and Yoann Turpin.
With the expansion has come a need to add headcount. Wintermute just hired two developers and is looking to bring on three or four more before the end of the year, Gaevoy said. They’re aiming for senior engineers who have worked at established hedge funds and trading houses, as well as junior developers from leading computer science universities. Gaevoy said the big selling point of Wintermute is that developers are on the front lines and part of the “core team," which is "different from many financial companies where developers are viewed as a support function,” he said.
Come 2019, Wintermute will look to expand further into prop trading. The firm hopes to add as many as 10 high-frequency traders with quant backgrounds, experience working with low latency systems and the ability to work well within a startup culture, Gaevoy said. Wintermute brought on a fairly junior trader last month who was most recently an equity investment associate at Lloyd’s Banking Group. He earned his bachelor’s in physics from UCL and spent six months studying at a code academy, according to LinkedIn. While based in London, the firm is looking into partnerships in Asia and may eventually expand its physical footprint.
Despite clear hesitancy from senior executives, big banks have begun dipping their toe into the cryptocurrency market, though they’ve stopped short of opening pure crypto trading desks. Meanwhile, exchanges like Coinbase have begun catering to institutional clients and are hiring from investment banks and other financial firms. The lines are beginning to blur.
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