Last Updated on 14 October, 2021 by Samuelsson

David Shaw is an American scientist and former hedge fund manager. He founded D.E Shaw & Co. He was a former assistant professor of computer science at Columbia University.

He grew up in Los Angeles, CA. David’s father was a theoretical physicist who specialized in plasma and fluid flows, and his mother was an artist and educator.

David graduated from the University of California with a bachelor’s degree and earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1980. He then became an assistant professor of computer science at Columbia University.

At Columbia University, he researched massively parallel computing with the NON-VON supercomputer. This supercomputer is composed of processing elements in a tree structure meant for fast relational database searches. In his early career, he founded Stanford Corp.

He joined Morgan Stanley as vice president for technology in Nunzio Tartaglia’s automated proprietary trading group in 1986. He then started his hedge fund, D.E Shae & Co., known for its use of sophisticated mathematical modelling and algorithms, in 1988.

David made his fortune by taking advantage of inefficiencies in the market using a state-of-the-art high-speed computer network.

In 1994, He was appointed by President Clinton to the president’s Council of Advisors on science and technology, where he headed the panel on educational technology.

In 1996, David was called “King Quant” by Fortune Magazine because of his firm’s role in pioneering high-speed quantitative trading. By 2001, he had turned into a full-time scientific researcher in computation biochemistry — specifically the molecular dynamics simulations of proteins.

In 2002, he created an executive committee to manage the company, then retired from the company’s day-to-day activities.

He was on the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2000 and served as its treasurer from 2000 to 2007. Additionally, he was appointed as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007.

Again, he was appointed by President Obama to the president’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2009. He was appointed to the National Academy of Engineering in 2002. In 2014, together with James H. Simons of Renaissance Technologies, David was ranked among the top 25 earners in the hedge fund industry by Institutional Investor’s Alpha.

David has donated more than $2.25 million to priorities USA Action — a super PAC that supported Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and $1 million to Organizing for Action. David and his wife, through the Shaw Family Endowment Fund, donated $400k to the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, $400k to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, and $800k to the Horace Mann School — all in 2014. Also, the fund had donated $1 million annually to Yale University, Harvard University, Stanford University, Princeton University, and $500k to Brown University and Columbia University. The College donations represent about 60% of the total fund’s philanthropy.

He is married to Beth Kobliner, a personal finance commentator and journalist. David and Beth are both members of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in NYC. They have three children and live in NYC.


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