Jane Street gets into mobile gaming


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Look, we know we write a lot about Jane Street, but it’s a fascinating place, and people seem interested in it. So it was hard to resist writing about the trading shop entering the mobile phone game space (kinda).

Back in 2013 Jane Street developed a card game called “Figgie”, which it made to simulate open outcry trading, teach trading nous, and generally burnish its reputation for quirkiness — de rigueur in the industry.

All you need are 40 cards from a normal deck, and the rules have been public for a while. During Covid, Jane Street made a virtual version for remote interns. Now it’s a mobile game that’s publicly available on the official Apple and Google app stores. Really:

HT Sujeet Indap for the spot. The app first went live in Apple’s app store three weeks ago and at pixel time it is ranked #27 in the card game charts — narrowly beaten by the Wizard of Oz Slots, Phase 10: World Tour and Solitaire Grand Harvest. It enjoys a unanimous five-star rating from the three people who graded it.

Its Google Play page shows “500+ downloads”, no reviews, and an extensive list of device permissions required:

These kinds of novelties aren’t unheard of in the quant trading space, where many players try to compete for talent with more than thick paychecks (obscene comp is tablestakes these days, even for fresh grads).

Making Figgie public is clearly an HR thing. There’s an APPLY TO JANE STREET button slapped right next to one that takes you to the Figgie tutorial, as well as in the app itself.

Other firms have pursued similar tacks. WorldQuant runs a “World Cup” for quants, for example, while Two Sigma published four iterations of an online computer game it called Halite, where the players code the behaviour of spaceship fleets that mine resources and fight for territory. It looks like it’s dead though (maybe a victim of founder feuding/paralysis).

It’s easy to be cynical about guerilla marketing when it’s on behalf of a giant, obsessively secretive trading firm. In general, though, the approach is more interesting than the generic McMarketing stuff that most financial companies churn out (even if the latter is a more reliable employment option for former journalists).

We’ve downloaded Figgie and will add our own rating in due course, whenever we get the app to work . . . 

… but it probably won’t beat the Pit — the OG card-based commodity trading game from 1904. This Alphavillain has many fond memories of bellowing “CORNER!!!!!” in his little brother’s face after once again collecting all the barley, flax or corn cards. Happy days.



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