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How video games saved an electronic trading firm

When we think of the video games industry in relation to hedge funds and trading firms, we usually think of the many elite engineers shifting from one industry to another. For electronic trading firm Jane Street, however, they also owe many thanks to the gamers themselves.

Speaking on the firm's Signals and Threads podcast, program manager Peter Bogart-Johnson discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing switch to remote work hampered the performance of its developers. The firm initially used instant messaging and video-call tool Jabber, but it was "not the most optimal" solution for quants and devs that were "used to just talking to each other on a row very, very quickly."

The solution? A "low-latency audio tool... mainly used for computer gaming." Platforms such as Discord built their reputation from being able to host fast, responsive audio channels for gamers dealing with split-second decisions in tense multiplayer games, but that level of responsiveness was more than applicable to Jane Street's desk.

This isn't the first competitive edge electronic trading has stolen from gamers, with Bogart-Johnson noting the design of their headsets as another example. However, this doesn't mean Jane Street didn't put their own spin on things. The tool was audio-only, so Bogart-Johnson's team developed a means of bridging together the audio tool with the firm's video tool, while muting the latter's audio input.

CTO Ron Minsky said this influence "is both hilarious and makes a lot of sense." He says that the "ability to flexibly move around between virtual spaces," is important, but that aspect "is not what corporate video conferencing tools were designed for."

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AUTHORAlex McMurray Editor

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