Billionaire hedge funder and New York Mets owner Steven A. Cohen may have raised eyebrows when he publicly criticized his baseball team on Twitter last month, but he’s apparently more optimistic about the cryptocurrency market.
Cohen has invested in Radkl, a new trading firm that will deploy quantitative methods—such as sophisticated, high-speed, computerized trading models—to invest in cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and the “decentralized finance” (DeFi) sector. The firm, whose name is pronounced “radical,” is led by partners at New York-based quantitative trading firm GTS, according to a press release.
The size of Cohen’s investment was not disclosed. The billionaire is investing in Radkl in a personal capacity and not through the hedge fund he leads, Point72 Asset Management, a spokesperson for Cohen told the Wall Street Journal. Nor will he be involved in the day-to-day running of the firm, GTS said in its press release.
The investment is Cohen’s latest show of faith in the crypto sector. He’s recently given interviews in which he described himself as “fully converted” into a believer in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, and he’s backed up that talk with both his time and money. On Monday, NFT startup Recur announced Cohen was joining its board after investing in the company’s $50 million Series A funding round through his family office.
“While the cryptocurrency market is now a $2 trillion asset class, we are still in the early stages of institutional adoption,” Cohen said in a statement, adding that “there’s a need for an institutional player like Radkl that engages in large digital asset transactions.”
Radkl is expected to begin trading in the fourth quarter of this year and will be led by GTS partner Ryan Sheftel. The firm says it currently “building a team of engineers, data scientists and other world-class technologists” to help implement its quantitative investment strategies. Quantitative crypto trading has grown in popularity in recent years and is now deployed by 37% of crypto hedge funds, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report—making it the most common strategy for those funds.
Cohen is not the only hedge fund billionaire to have embraced crypto recently, with industry legends Stanley Druckenmiller and Paul Tudor Jones among those to have publicly backed the asset class amid its 2021 rally. But Cohen is arguably the most notable hedge funder-turned-crypto convert. In addition to owning the Mets, he’s widely considered an inspiration for the character of hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod in the popular Showtime TV series Billions.
That show was inspired by the federal insider trading investigation of Cohen’s former hedge fund, S.A.C. Capital Advisors, which pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2013 and agreed to pay $1.8 billion in penalties. While Cohen himself was never criminally charged nor admitted to any wrongdoing, the Securities and Exchange Commission eventually banned him from managing clients’ money for two years.
Point72, Cohen’s successor to S.A.C. Capital Advisors, now manages around $22 billion in assets. The hedge fund was among those hit hard by the gyrations in the stock of video game retailer GameStop early this year, which resulted in heavy losses for the likes of Point72 and Daniel Sundheim’s D1 Capital Partners.
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