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OPTO Sessions Tom Thornton on hedge funds, an FBI raid and how to analyse market sentiment

Thomas Thornton is the founder and president of Hedge Fund Telemetry, an analysis and research company focusing on the hedge fund industry.

Earlier in his career, Thornton held roles at Morgan Stanley and Roxbury Capital, before moving to the now-notorious former hedge fund Level Global Investors.

It was during his time at the long/short, multi-sector equity hedge fund that Thornton experienced an event that changed his life.

Listen to the interview:

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At the time, Thornton was working as a trader and technical analyst at Level Global Investors. He had joined the firm in 2002 and would trade equities in the technology,  internet and media industries, as well as S&P 500 futures.

Thornton recalls that the firm had a great track record, but that all changed in 2010.

“It started on a Friday, after hours. The Wall Street Journal had this scoop that the FBI was looking inside our expert network,” Thornton tells Opto Sessions.

The expert network, he explains, was a system that would connect analysts or portfolio managers with industry experts. This was not just hedge funds applying these processes, he notes, but other mutual funds and pension funds too. But the network had come into the purview of the authorities.

“I’m walking into our building and I get in our elevator. Next in are two FBI agents wearing their FBI jackets, and they pushed the button from my floor. They said: ‘what floor’, and I said: ‘that one’. They just kind of looked at me. I was going up [in] this elevator and I knew everything in my life was going to change”

 

“I think it was 22 November — that was the Monday. I remember this well. I was going into New York City and I was running late. My Blackberry broke… And so I was going to have my IT guy fix [it],” Thornton says.

“I’m walking into our building and I get in our elevator. Next in are two FBI agents wearing their FBI jackets, and they pushed the button from my floor. They said: ‘what floor’, and I said: ‘that one’,” he recalls. “They just kind of looked at me. I was going up [in] this elevator and I knew everything in my life was going to change.”

 

To hear what happened next, as well as Thornton’s expertise on hedge funds and analysing market sentiment, listen to the full episode on Opto Sessions.

 

Or for more ways to listen:

 

Listen to the full interview and explore our past episodes on Opto Sessions.

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