Amy Yu grew up in Texas. “I’m from ‘Houston, we have a problem’ Houston,” she said: her mother was a NASA programmer.
Yu didn’t want to follow in those footsteps: she felt the action was in finance, and in Asia. After attending Wharton, she began as an intern in UBS’s Hong Kong capital markets desk; she also worked in corporate finance, but preferred the trading floor’s social interaction. This was the mid 2000s and UBS was riding high in Asia across equities. “That’s what I thought finance was,” she said, until the 2008 crisis humbled the industry.
She moved to Nomura for cash sales trading, and then to J.P. Morgan, which hired her to build out its prime brokerage in Asia from scratch. She built a team covering U.S. hedge funds and providing them with synthetic and delta-one products.
Arthur Hayes, a classmate of hers from Wharton, approached her about coming to work with him at his young bitcoin derivatives exchange, BitMEX. This was 2017 and she was happy in her banking career. “I wasn’t ready at first,” Yu said. “Prime, synthetics and delta-one are still good areas to be in, and I had doubts about crypto.”
But she admired what Hayes had built, trusted the team he had assembled, and she noticed how quickly BitMEX established itself. More than that, though, she had a keen desire to be where the action was. She remembered how she had envied her elders who regaled her with tales of booms like 1980s Japan or post-Soviet Russia. “This was my chance,” she said.
So she joined this summer to establish institutional sales for BitMEX, networking with many of her former banking clients, only now advising them on derivatives in the crypto space. It may not be rocket science, but Yu’s aiming for a different kind of moonshot.