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The 2013 Tech 50: Gaurav Suri

'Innovation has been the hallmark of our success,' says the D.E. Shaw executive.

Gaurav Suri
Head of Information Technology and Software Development
D.E. Shaw Group
Last year: 22

D.E. Shaw Group still bears the name of its founder, computer scientist David Shaw, who launched what began as a $28 million hedge fund in 1988 and left day-to-day management in 2002 to pursue computational biochemical research. Now a $30 billion global investment firm, D.E. Shaw has always depended on homegrown, state-of-the-art technology to fuel its highly sophisticated quantitative strategies and analytics. But this aspect of continuity in the firm is anything but static. “Innovation has been the hallmark of our success,” explains Gaurav Suri, head of  IT and software development since 2011. “It comes from the grass roots and is not a top-down phenomenon.” To help keep it going, Suri has instituted hackathons — not to break into systems but to encourage his 400 technologists, more than one third of the firm’s 1,100 employees, to hatch new ideas that keep D.E. Shaw ahead of what competitors are doing and vendors are selling. One weekend last summer 45 teams of three or four people spent 32 straight hours brainstorming and coding, stoked by pizza and snacks. “We think this approach to innovation allows us to attract talented people and keep them engaged,” says Suri, 42, who joined the company in 1996 from Bell Laboratories.

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