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Meet Kaiju: Matt Wladyka, Trader Q&A

I think one of the most unique things about working at Kaiju is that they not only have an entirely remote workforce, but they embrace it with open arms. I've rarely felt more welcome upon joining a new firm.

Kaiju Capital Management’s bench is deep. From quantitative analysts to traders to AI engineers, our global team boasts both professional diversity and deep vertical knowledge. Here in the "Meet Kaiju" space, we have spent a lot of time getting to know our colleagues on the technology side. In this edition, we go long (or short) to catch up with a teammate on the trading front.

Matt Wladyka is not known merely for bringing his A-game to Kaiju each day. Matt lives his A-game. Self-described as “hyper-competitive in anything I put my mind to”, Matt’s mind is engaged in the intricacies of the market these days, and that’s a win-win.

Q. Please tell us where you grew up and what your upbringing was like.

A. I grew up in Southern California. My parents always taught my sister, Courtney, and me the value of a good education, giving your absolute best in everything you do. Our lives were very busy growing up. If I wasn't studying, I was playing basketball, football, volleyball, or track and field.

Q. How did you get interested in trading?

A. I played poker for a long time, beginning in high school, so I've always been naturally attracted to endeavours that allow you to make money consistently over time by using your edge and skill set. Additionally, after completing an internship at State Street Global Advisors, one of the world's largest asset managers, I knew I needed something that challenged me mentally on a day-to-day basis. That internship made me realise that I thrive in high-pressure, high-stakes environments.

Q. How did you end up at Kaiju Capital Management?

A. While working at Polaris7 Investments, I met Kaiju’s Director of Cryptocurrency Trading, Mark Xue. We kept in close contact, and when he mentioned that the volatility arbitrage group here at Kaiju was raising money to trade a bigger book, I jumped at the opportunity to join.

Q. Tell us about your best day as a trader.

A. The best day was in mid-2017. A headline came out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be making an announcement at the top of the hour that would affect cigarette companies. Volatility was super cheap in all the relevant tickers, so I went up to my risk limits buying tobacco volatility (betting on a big move) as this seemed to have the potential to be incredibly significant.

I figured the move was likely down, but I played for the move – with a small bias to the downside. Then, the announcement hit. The FDA had a new plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation. First, the names traded down enough (I was up $50,000), then rallied. But I decided to leave the trade on. It seemed like the market was still digesting the importance of the news, and I thought there was a decent chance of further moves to the downside.

When all was said and done, these tickers made historically big moves to the downside and I made about $450,000 on the day. That was a return of nearly 50% on traded capital in a single day. I felt like I had hit the lotto.

Q. What’s unique about Kaiju compared to other workplaces?

A. I think one of the most unique things about working at Kaiju is that they not only have an entirely remote workforce, but they embrace it with open arms. I've rarely felt more welcome upon joining a new firm.

Q. Where do you see Kaiju going in the future?

A. It's exciting to be part of a firm where there's opportunity to make an impact beyond the position one was hired to fill. In other words, I welcome the chance to provide more value within Kaiju, whether it's trading with the crypto team or becoming involved in other areas of the business. I see room for tremendous personal growth.

Photo by Ricky Flores

Daniel Bukszpan's reporting and commentary on finance, technology, and politics has been published in Fortune, The Daily Beast, CNBC.com, and other outlets. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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