Alternative Data News. 24, June 2020

The AltDataNewsletter by CloudQuant

Finding sources and uses for alternative data can be difficult. At CloudQuant we regularly read and search the internet for new sources of data that can be used in our mission to find alpha signals and build quantitative trading strategies. We recognize that we are technology and data junkies so we wrote our own crawler that specifically seeks out web pages, posts, and news articles that give us a snapshot of what is going on in the world of Alt Data. The following is a collection of articles that we think you will find interesting from the past week.


Blockbuster Video US store locations between 1986 and 2019

Tools: Excel, Python and Blender 2.8

Sources: The per-state store numbers came from archive copies of Blockbuster Inc’s annual 10-K filings with the SEC between 1999 and 2011. The numbers outside of these years were collected from various business news articles with linear extrapolation for the dates in between.  The store counts also include Alaska and Hawaii which aren’t shown on the map.

Between 1985 and 2010, Blockbuster Video opened thousands of stores across the US. This map shows the locations of US Blockbuster Video stores over time.

Blockbuster opened their first store in Dallas in October of 1985. They weren’t the first video rental company, but they did have the largest selection of movie titles, over 6,500, which was more than any of their competitors at the time. Their first store was a huge success and throughout 1986, they opened three more stores in Texas.

While Blockbuster’s store concept worked really well, it wasn’t unique enough to be patentable. They knew that other companies would likely start copying their business model. To overcome this, their strategy was to grab as much market share as quickly as possible to stay ahead of any potential competitors. Throughout 1989, they purchased another four established rental chains and by 1990, they had opened over 1000 stores.

2020-06-19 Read the full story (Read the full YouTube description)…

European Commission opens investigation into acquisition of Refinitiv by London Stock Exchange

The Commission is concerned that the proposed acquisition may reduce competition in trading and clearing of various financial instruments and in financial data products.

The European Commission today announced the launch of an in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition of Refinitiv by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG). The Commission is concerned that the proposed acquisition may reduce competition in trading and clearing of various financial instruments and in financial data products.

The proposed transaction combines major trading venues where electronic trading of bonds of the European Economic Area (EEA), UK, and Swiss governments takes place. These venues include LSEG’s MTS and Refinitiv’s Tradeweb. This would result in a very large combined market share in the electronic trading of European Government Bonds, the Commission says. The market investigation indicates that the parties own venues with a leading position in the market, and are close competitors in this space, in particular regarding trading between dealers and investors. The market investigation also suggests that it is difficult for a new trading venue to attract clients in sufficient numbers and become a real alternative to incumbent venues.

In August 2019, LSEG announced the acquisition of Refinitiv in an all-share transaction for an enterprise value of approximately $27 billion. The proposed acquisition, which was approved by LSEG’s shareholders in November 2019, significantly accelerates LSEG’s existing strategy to be a leading global financial markets infrastructure provider. Thanks to the deal, LSEG is set to markedly expand its data and analytics offering to create a global multi-asset class capital markets business.

2020-06-22 19:52:46+03:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.5366, Raw Interest Score: 2.0690,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1277, Negative Sentiment 0.5109

CloudQuant Thoughts : This acquisition was big news in the Alternative Data world ($27 billion big). And so is the announcement of an investigation of the deal by the European Commission.

Credit-card data is broken. Here’s how hedge funds and banks are being forced to rethink one of the earliest forms of alt-data.

Credit-card data is one of the original alternative-data streams used by hedge funds and other investors. But the pandemic has disrupted consumer spending habits, and data vendors have been forced to do more hand-holding with clients. Banks are using techniques like post-stratification weighting and “swarming” to help make sense of data. One of the earliest and most popular forms of alternative data is proving more difficult to handle these days.

Investors like hedge funds have long leaned on credit-card data to help suss out everything from new retail trends to the health of specific businesses. But the coronavirus pandemic has transformed shopping habits, and that’s prompted some tough discussions in the ecosystem of data buyers and sellers.

“Relying on set-it-and-forget-it type models may not be a good idea because your outcome may be completely wrong,” Inna Kuznetsova, CEO of 1010data, told Business Insider.

For one hedge fund, Coatue’s $350 million quant fund, that means returning all outside capital while the firm reworks its strategy. It had pulled back severely from the markets in early April thanks to the instability and uncertainty in its data feeds. One source had told Business Insider that Coatue uses an e-commerce data set that showed a spike in visits to retailers’ websites while physical locations were closed — which could have overstated how well certain retailers were doing overall.

2020-06-22 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.2533, Raw Interest Score: 1.5262,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0860, Negative Sentiment 0.2150

CloudQuant Thoughts : Covid-19 has destroyed the set-it-and-forget-it black-box alt-data-driven algo. In the last three months we have seen new data sets (TSA Travel numbers) and the re-purposing of old data sets (Tom Tom Go’s City by City traffic patterns in China) take over Alternative Data. Alt Data is possibly the most progressive aspect of technology at the moment and the creativity shown during the pandemic has demonstrated just how dynamic and exciting this industry can be.

What I learned from looking at 200 machine learning tools

To better understand the landscape of available tools for machine learning production, I decided to look up every AI/ML tool I could find. The resources I used include:

  • Full stack deep learning
  • LF AI Foundation landscape
  • AI Data Landscape
  • Various lists of top AI startups by the media
  • Responses to my tweet and LinkedIn post
  • People (friends, strangers, VCs) share with me their lists

After filtering out applications companies (e.g. companies that use ML to provide business analytics), tools that aren’t being actively developed, and tools that nobody uses, I got 202 tools. See the full list. Please let me know if there are tools you think I should include but aren’t on the list yet!

2020-06-22 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.9448, Raw Interest Score: 1.6032,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1706, Negative Sentiment 0.1501

CloudQuant Thoughts : A nice mini summary of where we are with modern ML and  how we got here.

Analytics Best Practices for Transforming Data into a Business Asset

Data has three main functions that provide value to the business: To help in business operations, to help the company stay in compliance and mitigate risk, and to make informed decisions using analytics.

“Data can have an impact on your top line as well as your bottom line,” said Dr. Prashanth Southekal, CEO of DBP-Institute in a recent interview with DATAVERSITY®.

“Just capturing, storing, and processing data will not transform your data into a business asset. Appropriate strategy and the positioning of the data is also required,” he said. Southekal shared best practices for analytics and ways to transform data into an asset for the business.

2020-06-23 07:35:28+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.7507, Raw Interest Score: 1.6859,
Positive Sentiment: 0.4141, Negative Sentiment 0.1923

CloudQuant Thoughts : If you have a dataset that you think may be of use to others, particularly Investment firms, get in touch. We can help you to get your data in front of the right people in the right format.

AI experts say research into algorithms that claim to predict criminality must end

A coalition of AI researchers, data scientists, and sociologists has called on the academic world to stop publishing studies that claim to predict an individual’s criminality using algorithms trained on data like facial scans and criminal statistics.

Such work is not only scientifically illiterate, says the Coalition for Critical Technology, but perpetuates a cycle of prejudice against Black people and people of color. Numerous studies show the justice system treats these groups more harshly than white people, so any software trained on this data simply amplifies and entrenches societal bias and racism.

“Let’s be clear: there is no way to develop a system that can predict or identify ‘criminality’ that is not racially biased — because the category of ‘criminality’ itself is racially biased,” write the group. “Research of this nature — and its accompanying claims to accuracy — rest on the assumption that data regarding criminal arrest and conviction can serve as reliable, neutral indicators of underlying criminal activity. Yet these records are far from neutral.”

2020-06-24 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.6997, Raw Interest Score: 1.5393,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0563, Negative Sentiment 0.4505

CloudQuant Thoughts : This pseudoscience of scientific racism borders on Phrenology.


ESG Section

The Case for ESG Funds During Volatile Times: Morningstar

Advisors wary of sustainable investing may want to consider the performance of environmental, social and governance focused funds during these volatile times.

According to a new report from Morningstar, many funds investing in companies with relatively high ratings for ESG factors “prove to be more buoyant” than comparable non-ESG funds during market declines.

ESG funds tended to capture less of the downside of their Morningstar benchmark and to experience less volatility than comparable non-ESG funds during…
2020-06-16 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 5.5791, Raw Interest Score: 2.0821,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2112, Negative Sentiment 0.2414

‘Finance is, like, done. Everybody’s bought everybody else with low-cost debt’ says ValueAct co-founder Jeff Ubben — ‘Elizabeth Warren was right’

Companies, as governed today, with investors asking for more current returns and more buybacks and so forth, aren’t working for society or nature,’ Ubben tells the FT

The 58-year-old co-founder of ValueAct Capital, Jeff Ubben, told the Financial Times that he’s calling it quits at the investment fund that he co-founded about two decades ago in San Francisco.

“Finance is, like, done. Everybody’s bought everybody else with low-cost debt. Everybody’s maximized their margin. They’ve bought all their shares back . . . There’s nothing there. Every industry has about three players. Elizabeth Warren is right.”

Ubben had already stepped down as chief investment officer at the fund in 2017 and as CEO at the beginning of 2020, amid a round of changes in January at the activist hedge fund, and is now leaving altogether to kick off a new environmental and social-impact investment company that he calls Inclusive Capital Partners.
2020-06-23 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.3925, Raw Interest Score: 1.6174,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1578, Negative Sentiment 0.1183

‘Next Generation’ Of Smart Sustainable ETFs Launch

Stephane Degroote, head of ETFs & derivatives EMEA at FTSE Russell, said sustainability is involved in all the discussions the index, data and analytics provider is having regarding exchange-traded funds. Degroote told Markets Media: “Demand has become more sophisticated as issuers use factors to achieve specific environmental, social and governance exposures.”

Lida Eslami, head of business development for exchange traded products and international order book at London Stock Exchange, told Markets Media there has been more demand for ESG ETFs. “We currently list 19 sustainable ETFs and they have made up a quarter of new listings,” she added. Last week HSBC Global Asset Management launched three ETFs on the London Stock Exchange which track the newly created FTSE Russell ESG Low Carbon Select Indices. FTSE Russell is owned by the London Stock Exchange Group.

2020-06-15 17:31:37+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.7995, Raw Interest Score: 1.8675,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0865, Negative Sentiment 0.0346

ESG Fund Managers Look To Data And Scenario Analysis

The Covid-19 pandemic may help asset managers frame models for climate risk as they look to more forward looking scenario analysis for environmental, social and governance strategies.

Sharon Fay, co-head of equities and chief responsibility officer at AllianceBernstein, said in a blog that the investment management industry needs climate change models that are more forward-looking.

The investment-management industry needs to make strides in modeling #climatechange, says Sharon Fay, our Chief Responsibility Officer and Co-Head of Equities. #ABIQ https://t.co/kZs4I…
2020-06-18 19:01:20+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.9038, Raw Interest Score: 1.7442,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2514, Negative Sentiment 0.1100

CloudQuant Thoughts : As well as distributing this new summary, we also work with vendors of alternative datasets, including an ESG data set. Head over to our data catalog to find out more.


Mastercard buys financial-data startup Finicity for $825 million

We talked to Mastercard’s incoming CEO about why the card giant is spending $825 million to buy financial-data startup Finicity

Mastercard announced plans to acquire financial data startup Finicity for $825 million on Tuesday. The deal will help Mastercard grow it’s open-banking platform, which launched in Europe last year. Finicity’s data-sharing platform enables banks, fintechs, and lenders to access financial data for credit decision-making and real-time payment authentications.
2020-06-24 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.2442, Raw Interest Score: 1.7650,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1513, Negative Sentiment 0.0336

Mastercard to purchase open-banking company Finicity for $825 million

Mastercard Inc. MA, +0.80% announced Tuesday that it plans to acquire open-banking company Finicity for $825 million. Finicity shareholders have the ability for an earn out of as much as $160 million in additional funds if certain performance targets are met. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. Mastercard said in a release that Finicity’s technologies will strengthen its open-banking capabilities…
2020-06-23 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.4805, Raw Interest Score: 1.5280,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2547, Negative Sentiment 0.0000

Mastercard to buy Finicity for open banking push

Mastercard is accelerating its open banking strategy through the $825 million acquisition of real-time financial data aggregation service Finicity. Salt Lake City-based Finicity works with thousands of banks and fintechs, using APIs to help smooth the exchange of customer data. With open banking seen as a “growing global trend” by Mastercard president Michael Miebach, the payments giant is keen to cash in, adding Finicity’s technology and teams to its platform as it seeks to win over banks and fintechs.
2020-06-23 16:38:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.3938, Raw Interest Score: 1.9732,
Positive Sentiment: 0.3946, Negative Sentiment 0.0000


Charles Schwab finalizes asset acquisition of Motif’s technology and intellectual property

The Charles Schwab Corporation on Tuesday announced the completion of the asset acquisition of Motif’s technology and intellectual property.

Motif is a fintech pioneer that has combined breakthrough technology and data science to deliver customized thematic portfolios to investors. On top of thematic investing, Motif’s technology platform offers the flexibility to personalize investments, supports real-time fractional share trading and can help enable sophisticated tax optimization strategies within investment portfolios.

The asset acquisition includes all of Motif’s technology and intellectual property, including algorithms, patents and source code. Schwab has also hired a majority of Motif’s development and investment talent.
2020-06-24 07:29:15+03:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 4.6010, Raw Interest Score: 2.0231,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1445, Negative Sentiment 0.0723

AxeTrading and Mosaic Smart Data collaborate to unlock bond market insights

AxeTrading, the fixed income trading software provider, and Mosaic Smart Data, the real-time capital markets data analytics company, today announced the integration of the AxeTrader EMS for the sell-side, buy-side and agency brokers with the Mosaic Smart Data’s MSX platform.

Mosaic Smart Data provides real-time capital markets data aggregation, normalisation and powerful data analytics fuelled by machine learning. Mosaic Smart Data understands that the true value of data comes not only from the intrinsic individual data streams themselves, but also from the correlations and inferences that can be drawn from the aggregated data from each client. It’s data analytics platform, MSX, and advanced suite of machine-learning powered tools, MSX360, provide value to buy-side, sell-side, custodians, market infrastructure providers and trading venues alike.
2020-06-24 10:58:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 4.3711, Raw Interest Score: 2.0138,
Positive Sentiment: 0.5664, Negative Sentiment 0.0315

Microsoft acquires ADRM Software, leader in large-scale, industry-specific data models

In advancing our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft has been investing in the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to continuously innovate, influence and enhance customer experience and partner growth.

Data and AI are the foundation of modern technological innovation, yet businesses today struggle to unlock the full value data has to offer as fragmented data estates hinder digital transformation. Without a comprehensive and integrated view of their data, companies are at a competitive disadvantage, which hinders digital adoption and data-driven innovation.

Today, we are excited to announce the acquisition of ADRM Software, a leading provider of large-scale industry data models, which are used by large companies worldwide as information blueprints. ADRM’s robust industry data models have been built and refined over decades for business-critical analytics.

2020-06-18 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 4.2753, Raw Interest Score: 2.3952,
Positive Sentiment: 0.5988, Negative Sentiment 0.2139

Data Science on the Buy Side

With Gary Collier, CTO of Man Group Alpha Technology, and Hinesh Kalian, Director of Data Science, Man Group

What are the main data challenges / pain points for the buy side?

A big challenge is obtaining and retaining data science talent. It is apparent that there is a growing demand, and therefore competition, for data science talent across all industries, not just in financial services. Another challenge relates to the ability to ingest and curate structured and unstructured data rapidly and in a variety of raw formats. The growth in new data providers has led to a wide variance in the quality of data offered by data providers; some providers are well-established and have appropriate data science and technology teams, whereas others can be as limited as two employees in a start-up.

For data to be useful it needs to be clean, consistent and sourced and processed appropriately. Often data is provided after some processing steps are done, which limits awareness of the raw data and can lead to the risk of false representation and predictability.
2020-06-24 11:54:29+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.7405, Raw Interest Score: 1.8998,
Positive Sentiment: 0.1981, Negative Sentiment 0.0932

Lynn Martin Marks 5 Years As President, ICE Data Services

When she was a young girl Lynn Martin did not think that a woman could make a career on Wall Street but she has defied her own expectations. In July 2015 she became president and chief operating officer of ICE Data Services. Her responsibilities cover managing global data operations including exchange data, pricing and analytics, reference data, desktops and connectivity services across all major asset classes.

Martin told Markets Media: “The biggest change in five years has been the type of data produced and how it is used in markets. For example, developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning and more recently, environmental, social and governance data to power alpha generation.”
2020-06-22 17:57:39+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.4613, Raw Interest Score: 1.6211,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2074, Negative Sentiment 0.0566

Baidu’s PaddlePaddle deep-learning platform fuels the rise of industrial AI

This content was produced by Baidu. It was not written by MIT Technology Review’s editorial staff.

PaddlePaddle lets developers build applications that can help solve problems in a wide range of industries, from waste management to health care.

AI is driving industrial transformation across a variety of sectors, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of AI capabilities. Some industrial innovations are barely noticed, such as forest inspection for fire hazards and prevention, but the benefits of AI when coupled with deep learning have a wide-ranging impact. In Southeast Asia, AI-powered forest drones have helped 155 forestry bureaus expand the range of forest inspections from 40% to 100% and perform up to 200% more efficiently than manual inspections. Behind these smart drones are well-trained deep-learning models based on Baidu’s PaddlePaddle, the first open-source deep-learning platform in China. Like mainstream AI frameworks such as Google’s TensorFlow and Facebook’s PyTorch, PaddlePaddle, which was open sourced in 2016, provides software developers of all skill levels with the tools, services, and resources they need to rapidly adopt and implement deep learning at scale.

2020-06-22 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.3906, Raw Interest Score: 1.7411,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2635, Negative Sentiment 0.1489

HK fintech Qupital to provide financing for eBay sellers

Hong Kong-based financial technology platform Qupital is pleased to announce that it has entered into an agreement with leading global e-commerce platform eBay as one of its officially recommended Hong Kong financing service providers.

This collaboration will enable Qupital to provide quality, data-based offshore financing services to eBay sellers in Greater China via its flagship product “QiaoYiDai” and assist them in resolving…
2020-06-24 11:32:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.0937, Raw Interest Score: 1.8678,
Positive Sentiment: 0.5747, Negative Sentiment 0.1149

HSBC invests $7m in data privacy firm Privitar

HSBC has invested $7 million in Privitar, topping up a recent $80 million Series C funding round for the UK-based data privacy startup.

HSBC joins Warburg Pincus, ABN Amro Ventures, Accel, Partech, IQ Capital, and Salesforce Ventures in the round, which was initially announced in April.

Established in 2014, Privitar helps banks and others make the most of big data while ensuring customer information is kept private. It says that its centralis…
2020-06-23 13:26:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 3.0769, Raw Interest Score: 1.7949,
Positive Sentiment: 0.0855, Negative Sentiment 0.1709

Evolution of data science: How it will change over the next decade

Although data science, as an academic discipline, has been around for more than 50 years, it wasn’t until around 2010 that it entered the mainstream consciousness. It happened as a new wave of businesses recognized that data was the key to mastery of modern markets and started making it their strategic focus. In the years since, the field of data science has seen explosive growth as well as some fast-paced developments as higher demand has spurred innovation.

As far as the field of data science has come since 2010, there’s every reason to believe that the next decade will bring even more change. With simultaneous advances in related technology fields and new approaches by the best and brightest minds in the industry, data science in 2030 will bear little resemblance to the state of the art today. Here’s a look at how data science is set to evolve over the next decade.

2020-06-16 10:33:57+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8079, Raw Interest Score: 1.4761,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2312, Negative Sentiment 0.1601

Lenovo Announces Solutions Purpose-Built For Analytics And AI Workloads

Lenovo Data Center Group (DCG) announced the launch of the ThinkSystem SR860 V2 and SR850 V2 servers, which now features 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with enhanced support for SAP HANA based on Intel Optane persistent memory 200 series. These solutions will allow customers to simplify common data management challenges. In addition, Lenovo announced new remote deployment service offerings for the ThinkSystem DM7100 storage systems.

With these offerings, customers can more easily navigate complex data management needs to deliver actionable business intelligence through artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics while getting maximum results when combined with business applications like SAP HANA®.

2020-06-19 07:31:41+00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8055, Raw Interest Score: 1.6920,
Positive Sentiment: 0.4999, Negative Sentiment 0.2115

Cape Privacy launches security-conscious collaboration platform for data science

Cape Privacy (formerly Dropout Labs), which is developing a privacy-preserving platform for collaborative data science, today announced it has raised $5.06 million. The company says $2.95 million of that is new funding and $2.11 million is seed money from 2018. It plans to use the money to accelerate its go-to-market efforts.

AI promises to transform — and indeed has transformed — entire industries, from civic planning and health care to cybersecurity. But privacy remains an unsolved challenge, particularly where compliance and regulation are concerned. Banks, health providers, and even retailers can run into problems when collaborating on AI and machine learning research involving sensitive or proprietary data, like patient records, financial documents, and supply chain details.

2020-06-24 00:00:00 Read the full story…
Weighted Interest Score: 2.8043, Raw Interest Score: 1.5563,
Positive Sentiment: 0.2993, Negative Sentiment 0.1197


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