“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.” 

Steve Jobs

I was going to start out by saying that it’s been a pivotal year for Alphacution. Problem is, I said the same things at this time last year. So, I supposed that means it’s been a good coupla years.

The pandemic, volatility, subsequent lockdown – and some luck in timing – drove a lot of attention towards Alphacution’s content in 2020. Clearly, Robinhood and payments for order flow (PFOF) were top themes for the year. Our Feed post on Robinhood and trailing stop orders led the year in page views, and represented like no other before it what it looks like when a story goes viral. Not to be outdone, the timely post on the downfall of Ronin Capital also attracted a ton of attention. In fact, if we were to sum the page views of the stories in the #2, #3 and #4 spots – all of which related to Ronin and its affiliate, ParPlus Partners – the total would easily rival that of the #1 Robinhood post.

Other notable posts on the Top 10 list are, in fact, two from 2019: One of our greatest eye-candy pieces of all time the “Top 100 Players in US Listed Market Structure” is a consistent favorite – and one whose eye candy is due for an upgrade and makeover in 2021. Stay tuned for that. And, the detailed post on the “Decline of Speculation at Scale” is another piece with great visuals and better utility for those interested in learning our perspective and how the entire trading ecosystem fits together as one massive information consumption and transmission mechanism, and therefore, how that supports our overarching hypothesis that the capacity of alpha is finite…

Now, as many of you know, we put up a paywall in mid-October which skews page views and rankings; thereby bifurcating our content like apples and oranges. One of the pieces that I’m most proud of that currently sits behind the paywall is the “Pennies and Locomotives” piece published in November because of its potential to teach – visually – why options trading is so important for the competitive landscape going forward. Check that one out…

Also, a very popular post that I did not include in the Top 10 list was the publication of the executive summary for our deep-dive case study on Jane Street Group. That post – and case study – were a big hit, and set us up for a more steady flow of deep case study content in 2021. Note: All executive summaries to our case studies are free to download with registration.

Anyway, here’s Alphacution Top 10 Stories for 2020, as ranked by page views:

  1. Robinhood’s Trailing Stop Orders: Extreme Profitability, by Design (July 2020)
  2. Poof! Legendary Ronin Capital Disappears (March 2020)
  3. Parplus Impersonates LTCM, Drags Ronin Down (March 2020)
  4. ABN Amro Clearing: Source of $200 Million Mystery Loss Revealed (March 2020)
  5. AQR: The Shape of Strategy Teaser (February 2020)
  6. From Citadel Securities to Tastyworks: The New Economics of Liquidity – Part 1 (July 2020)
  7. Trick Shot: Robinhood Underwrites MEMX (June 2020)
  8. quantPORT: First Look at Jefferies Quant Spinout (May 2020)
  9. Top 100 Players in US Listed Market Structure (February 2019)
  10. BlackRock, Bridgewater, Citadel: Decline of Speculation at Scale (October 2019)

Author’s Choice: Pennies and Locomotives: Hypothesis for Virtu’s Next Acquisition (November 2020)

I will be back with a separate Feed post on our outlook for 2021…

Until next time…