The Origin Story Behind Shot Caller

I’m not a typical trader or investor. I didn’t get into this occupation through business school or an interest in finance.

My background is in cognitive science, software engineering, poker, and art. Lately, I’ve grown more curious about the science of psychedelics, a curiosity that has led me off the beaten path and into a more ‘hands-on’ approach toward learning in that field. This is just another divergence from the typical finance-oriented path in my life journey.

It wasn’t until I had time on my hands due to the pandemic that my love of cognitive science led me to study the markets. When I started paying attention, I noticed there was at least a correlation between what people were posting on social media and the price action.

For example, below is a graph showing the impact an Elon Musk Tweet can have on the price of an asset.

This suddenly made trading and investing much more interesting. I have training in applied psychology, a lens I could now use to understand the social dynamics that seemed to be influencing prices in the market.

Additionally, my good buddy had been using A.I. methods, particularly Natural Language Processing, to study social media language at UPenn and Stanford for the better part of a decade.

We joined forces and recruited a couple of other engineer-scientists, including one of the NLP world experts, Dr. Andy Schwartz, and began to scrape social media with the intent to better understand this new world of the financial influencer.

The first question we are trying to answer: which financial influencers should you follow and which should you ignore?

We figured that even if there was no one worth following (the worst-case scenario), that would be a valuable question to answer.

Our first strategy to answer this question, now implemented after over a year of scraping posts, is to determine the ROI of these recommendations and/or sentiment for an asset from these financial influencers.

Once we had an alpha version of our pipeline (example below), we reached out to our media mogul friend from UPenn, Nick White, to create a new kind of financial media around our data feeds (that’s why you’re reading this now).

We have lots more coming, but I hope this first chunk of financial influencer analysis is helpful to you in understanding the markets.

Zack Prager & The Shot Caller team.