When Daniel Nadler woke on Nov. 6, he had just enough time to pour himself a glass of orange juice and open his laptop before the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly employment report at 8:30 a.m. He sat at the kitchen table in his one-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, nervously refreshing his web browser — Command-R, Command-R, Command-R — as the software of his company, Kensho, scraped the data from the bureau’s website. Within two minutes, an automated Kensho analysis popped up on his screen: a brief overview, followed by 13 exhibits predicting the performance of investments based on their past response to similar employment reports.
Nadler couldn’t have double-checked all this analysis if he wanted to. It was based on thousands of numbers drawn from dozens of databases. He just wanted to make sure that Kensho had pulled the right number — the overall growth in American payrolls — from the employment report. It was the least he could do, given that within minutes, at 8:35 a.m., Kensho’s analysis would be made available to employees at Goldman Sachs.