Steve Cohen, now a venture capitalist, invests in trading start-up

Executive Edge: Cohen's Point72 Ventures backs Quantopian

Steve Cohen is putting up to $250 million into a new fund managed by the start-up Quantopian, a trading platform that uses crowdsourcing to create new algorithms for investing capital.

In addition to that quarter-billion dollar investment, which will build over time if Quantopian's models generate certain returns, a venture-capital fund seeded by Cohen and some of his employees, Point72 Ventures, is investing $2 million in exchange for an equity stake in Quantopian itself.

Point72 Ventures, which will focus on technologies catering to the financial-services industry, was launched in May.

"There's a tremendous amount of information in the world right now, and if you're a portfolio manager sitting there every day, trying to process all that, that is a huge challenge," said Matthew Granade, Point72's head of market intelligence and one of the architects of the Quantopian investment. "So we're really interested in people that are helping you crunch down the information, synthesize it better, help make you more efficient in absorbing it."

Granade, who is also a board member at Quantopian, told CNBC on Tuesday that Quantopian would begin deploying Point72's capital as a privately-managed account in the coming months, as soon as both firms could get the technological "piping set up."

Quantopian already has a roster of prominent early investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Partners, and Spark Capital. Founded about five years ago, it has attracted more than 85,000 members, a developer base that includes nuclear-lab researchers, data-company workers, and even some precocious teenagers.

The designers of algorithms who use its platform receive royalties from the use of their models if they're successful at generating returns. But the fact that a money manager the likes of Cohen is putting money into the platform is regarded by Quantopian officials as a key new vote of support.

"Even just the beginning of the conversation was incredibly validating to us," Quantopian John Fawcett said in an interview Tuesday, "that we were on to something and focusing on a problem in the industry."

The problem, as he described it? "Finding talent."