Case study

Sam Bankman-Fried

Majored in Physics at MIT, now earning to give at a quantitative hedge fund

Sam's story

Sam was an undergraduate at MIT, studying Physics, when he met Will MacAskill. Will had just given a talk presenting the basic ideas of 80,000 Hours, including earning to give. Sam was undecided about what to do after graduation, and became more convinced that, given his quantitative skills, earning to give could be the right first step.

He was introduced to several members of our community, who told him about the company where he now works. He tried an internship as a quantitative trader, and found he liked the company and was especially good at the work. The work involved using statistics and economics to create computer programs to place trades when the prices of two similar assets get out of line. Performing well requires good maths and programming skills, combined with a betting mindset and the quick thinking of a good poker player.

He’s now in his first year. Although he’s not having much impact directly through his work, he’ll soon be making annual donations in the six figures – probably a bigger immediate impact than he could have made elsewhere. At the same time, the role builds his technical skills, communication skills, abilities to make decisions under pressure, and experience within business and finance; all of which give him lots of options for the future. Read more about quantitative trading.