Christina Qi is the CEO of Databento, an on-demand market data platform. She formerly founded Domeyard LP, a hedge fund focused on high frequency trading (HFT) that traded up to $7.1 billion USD per day. Failing to earn a job offer after a Wall Street internship, Christina started Domeyard from her dorm room with $1000 in savings, about 9 years ago. Her fund was a tiny minnow amongst the tigers of the hedge fund world, but after Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys came out in 2014 and HFT firms hid from the spotlight, Domeyard accidentally found itself in the center of the ring. Over the next decade, her company’s story was featured on the front page of Forbes and Nikkei, and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNN, NBC, and the Financial Times as a result of the controversy and fascination with HFT. By a series of accidents, Christina became a voice in her industry, contributing to the World Economic Forum’s research on AI in finance, guest lecturing at dozens of universities, and teaching Domeyard’s case study at Harvard Business School. She is grateful to be able to open up about her mistakes, and to help people turn failures into opportunities.
No amount of therapy has quashed Christina’s impostor syndrome, but she will always be proud of her non-profit volunteer work. Christina was elected as a Member of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s Board of Trustees. She is Co-Chair of the Board of Invest in Girls, bringing financial literacy education to underserved populations across the US. Christina also sits on the Board of Directors of The Financial Executives Alliance (FEA) Hedge Fund Group, drives entrepreneurship efforts at the MIT Sloan Boston Alumni Association (MIT SBAA), and served on the U.S. Non-Profit Boards Committee of 100 Women in Finance. Although "X Under X" lists are a gimmick, she’ll admit that Forbes 30 Under 30 made a positive impact on her life by giving her a community - friends who dragged her out of bed during the lowest days of her life. Christina holds a Bachelor of Science in Management Science from MIT and is a CAIA Charterholder.
Christina wrote a book about her many hedge fund mistakes, but is hesitating to publish it because she wants to spend her 30’s out of the spotlight. If it ever gets published, you can sign up for a notification here: https://financesnake.substack.com/p/coming-soon.
To sign up for Databento's market data (early access): www.databento.com
If you have questions, feel free to Tweet me: @christinaqi
Hedge fund (n): an investing group that pools capital from wealthy individuals and institutions, employing speculative techniques in the hope of obtaining large capital gains.
In other words, we make billionaires even richer.
In the competitive hedge fund world, your return on investment, or alpha, determines whether you’re the next great legend - inducted into the Billionaires’ Club with the likes of Warren Buffett, Ray Dalio, and Jim Simons - or the next laughing stock of the universe, ending up broke, in prison, or in a slow, elongated downward spiral.
Nearly 100% of hedge funds end up as laughing stocks: failing miserably, prior to even launching. Out of the few funds that manage to launch, only a tiny handful of founders perform well enough to pass the five-year mark. These lucky founders are known as hedge fund veterans.
Out of these veteran funds, almost none of them were launched by college-aged founders.
I am a veteran hedge fund founder who started from a college dorm room in 2012. I traded up to $7.1 billion dollars per day, made the front page of Forbes, and earned more money in an hour than my parents made in a year. I was also interrogated by the FBI, sued, evicted, and ran into my fair share of trouble. As we made mistake after mistake, I became the exact persona that I mocked and despised throughout my career: the latest laughing stock on Wall Street. There were times when I went home crying, questioning why I chose such a competitive and meaningless path. There were many troubled nights, where I wondered if the police would arrest me in the morning.
I grew up in a small town in northern Utah, far away from the pits of Wall Street. My parents, teachers, and role models always taught me to do something good for this world; to serve my community and the underprivileged. And yet, despite my desire to make a difference, I ended up in high frequency trading, or HFT, where I was contributing absolutely nothing to society. As I gained prominence in my industry, the cognitive dissonance grew and grew, until everything blew up. I became a Wall Street sellout - a finance snake - expanding the fortunes of the richest people in the world.
I wrote this memoir because people deserve to know the truth about starting a hedge fund today, about the controversial practice of high frequency trading, about life at one of the most elite colleges in the world, and about what happened to my fund, Domeyard LP.
I am grateful to the pioneers of the financial industry, who gave me every opportunity to succeed.
To the next generation of young leaders in finance: You will inherit wealth beyond your wildest dreams, from a legacy system that may not always make sense.
Just know that there is so much more to life than chasing alpha.
If you'd like to be notified of my book's release date, enter your email here: https://financesnake.substack.com/p/coming-soon. I promise to keep emails to a bare minimum.
Want me to speak at your event? Fill out this quick form.
"Christina's reputation as the most sought after woman in her industry is well earned. Right after graduating from MIT, she co-founded Domeyard, a high-frequency trading hedge fund that was started out of her dorm room. Six years later, Christina and her co-founders are now the preeminent forces in the Hedge Fund and FinTech space." - Michael Elkins, MLE Law
"Christina always gets top ratings from my class even by comparison to much older, very successful guest speakers including founders from the financial services industry. They resonate to her in so many dimensions...honesty, talent and a sense that one should be giving back to society from the outset and not just after a cumulative great success." - Robert C. Merton, 1997 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Services
"Domeyard has captured the interest of the greater financial community for its distinct managerial philosophy, embrace of AI and its positioning as a next-generation hedge fund." - Gregg Schoenberg, The Financial Revolutionist
Forbes 30 Under 30 Summit, October 2018, 7000+ attendees, Boston
"Wall Street in 2018"
Wall Street’s as competitive as ever, so how do you build your own firm when the incumbents are trillion dollar businesses? One of the largest millennial events in the world, hosted by Forbes.
AIM Summit Dubai, November 2018, 1000+ attendees, Dubai
"Reinventing Hedge Funds"
The paces of technological change and the rise of artificial intelligence is leading some to question whether the hedge fund proposition will even exist in a few years. What should hedge funds do to maintain their value amidst artificial intelligence and related technologies, and a growing demand for responsible investment options? This is one of the premiere hedge fund events in the Middle East, hosted by The AIM Summit.
Bloomberg Live, October 2018, New York
"The Future of Investing: Staying Ahead in Today's Market"
For today's investor it's all about gaining access and staying ahead of the competition by being better, faster, and smarter and technology is an undeniable component of that. From the explosion of data to advances in artificial intelligence and quantitative strategies how are today's investors evolving with the digital landscape? What's the right mix of new versus traditional strategies and research? Are the concerns about technology causing instability and volatility overblown? We'll gather leaders in the space to look out on the horizon to better understand how investors and the industry are evolving. This is private event, hosted by Bloomberg Live.
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta - 2018 Financial Markets Conference, May 2018, Invite Only, Amelia Island
"Machines Learning Investments"
Machines have been learning finance for decades, and algorithmic, high-frequency trading has received much attention. However, recent developments in data availability and storage, computer speed, and learning techniques might dramatically change and accelerate technology's participation in the financial system. This session will explore the strengths and weaknesses of using ML to design and execute portfolio strategies. This is a private event for government officials, global financial firms and policy institutions, hosted by The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Time Summit, April 2018, Private Investor Event, Greenwich
"Recent Developments in High Frequency Trading - 2018"
An annual update on the HFT industry. This is private event for hedge fund investors hosted by Bridge Alternatives.
MIT AI Conference, April 2018, 1000+ attendees, San Francisco
"The Algorithmic Hedge Fund"
A fireside chat with Bloomberg News about the uses and limitations of machine learning in quantitative trading. This is an annual event hosted by MIT CNC.
Macquarie Global Quantitative Research Conference, June 2017, 500+ attendees, Hong Kong
"The State of HFT"
An update on the current state of high frequency trading, including the recent M&A activity, impact on the markets, and effect on smaller HFT firms. This is an annual event hosted by Macquarie.
QuantCon, April 2017, 1000+ attendees, New York
"Recent Developments in High Frequency Trading - 2017"
Recent headlines about high frequency trading mention decreased profits, heightened regulatory scrutiny, and a surge in competition. To what extent are smaller firms affected by these developments? In this talk, we discuss some current trends in automated and high frequency trading, from the latest infrastructure developments to the challenges that funds are facing amid stiff competition. The discussion examines unique challenges and insights from the perspective of an HFT hedge fund. This is an annual event hosted by Quantopian.
MIT Investment Management Conference, February 2016, 1000+ attendees, Cambridge
"Challenges and Opportunities"
In partnership with 100 Women in Finance, we discuss the economic and financial challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in 2016. This is an annual event hosted by MIT Sloan.
100 Women in Finance New York Gala, November 2015, 1000+ attendees, New York
"The CAIA Foundation Scholarship"
In partnership with the CAIA Foundation, Christina spoke at the 100WF Annual Gala about the CAIA Charter and the doors that it has opened. Christina was introduced by Jane Buchan, CEO of PAAMCO. This is an annual event hosted by 100 Women in Finance.
Open Data Science Conference, March 2015, 1000+ attendees, Boston
"Fast and Smart: A Paradox in Quantitative Trading"
This talk presents a common paradox in the context of quantitative trading and how advancements in technology can confront this problem. This is an annual event hosted by Open Data Science Conference.
Bloomberg Quant Conference, October 2014, 500+ attendees, Cambridge
"The Modern Hedge Fund"
After the 2008 crisis, hedge funds today face higher barriers to entry and a surge in competition. In this talk, Christina discusses the modern hedge fund and how to overcome early challenges. This is an annual event hosted by Bloomberg.
Outside of work, I enjoy skiing, running, hiking, and camping with my family. I don't know where I'd be without my family and friends.
I also love board games and video games. My crowning nerd achievement was winning 1st place in the MIT mahjong tournament (and then getting destroyed in Round 1 every year after that).
My friends call me a "weeaboo" or "otaku", although I prefer "weeb" which basically means a foreigner who enjoys anime. I am grateful for my parents, who supported my crazy interests and drove me to the local anime convention when I was 12, in a Naruto cosplay (of course!). I spent my childhood watching anime, and today I keep up with the current season when time permits.