Chris Petrescu, ExodusPoint's head of data strategy, left the $8.8 billion hedge fund last week, sources told Business Insider.
Petrescu was in charge of finding alternative datasets to buy for the firm's many portfolio-management teams, and he was a frequent panelist at high-profile data conferences. The firm still has a 15-person data team run by Anil Chandroth, the head of data science and Petrescu's former boss, and the team's strategy remains unchanged, according to a source close to the firm.
Exodus declined to comment. Petrescu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Read more: Hedge funds' secret sauce is obscure data like satellite images. Here's how the people in charge of spending millions on this data find the stuff worth buying.
Hedge funds have turned to alternative data to boost returns, which has spurred an explosion of startups. The industry tracker AlternativeData.org says there are 445 alternative-data vendors - a huge leap from 10 years ago, when there were just over 100 vendors.
To filter through the now overwhelming number of data streams for sale, hedge funds employ data buyers like Petrescu to find data that is unique and proven to generate returns. At conferences like BattleFin, where vendors are hawking their products, these data buyers can have dozens of meetings in a day on the search for game-changing data.
As data has grown in prominence, the data buyers have also grown in stature. A lawsuit between WorldQuant and Third Point a couple years ago revealed that Dan Loeb's firm was paying the data-strategy head Matthew Ober $2 million a year to woo him away from Igor Tulchinsky's firm.Read more: Nasdaq-owned alt-data seller Quandl just hired BlueMountain's former data buyer to get inside hedge fund clients' heads
Petrescu also worked at WorldQuant from 2014 to 2017 as a data strategist before leading data strategy for Exodus. The $8.8 billion hedge fund's first year of trading underwhelmed, returning less than 1% in the second half of 2018.
This year, the firm has returned about 4% through the end of September, trailing multistrategy rivals like Point72, Balyasny, Citadel, and Millennium, Gelband's old firm, but it made money in last month - 0.4% - when many big names were hit by the dramatic swings in oil and momentum stocks.