A group of former traders have built a fantasy football app Wall Street will love

Wall Street loves this time of the year almost as much as bonus season.

The fantasy football drafts are done, and the trash talking has begun.

On Thursday evening, the NFL season kicks off and in 16 weeks some people are going to have serious bragging rights on the trading floor.
Now, a group of former traders and portfolio managers are hoping to apply a little Wall Street know-how to the game with an app called PocketGM.

It’s a one-stop shop where users can import teams from major fantasy football providers such as Yahoo!, CBS, ESPN into one universal scoreboard, and also get some analytics on their teams.

“Wall Street inspired our vision,” said the company’s CEO Gustavo “Goose” Miguel, a former trader and hedge fund manager.

He noticed that colleagues play in many different leagues whether its with their clients, their brokers, fellow traders, or college buddies.

“I had a front row seat to fantasy football going viral on the trading floors,” he said. “Fantasy players started with one league, which quickly grew to five to ten if not more. My vision wasn’t reinventing the game we all loved, it was simplifying the user experience.”

The app offers the ability for users to play with their current existing season-long teams, as well as in a daily or weekly format.

Since traders love an edge, the other thing the app provides is Wall Street style analysis written by a former Bain & Co. consultant.

22 years of fantasy football

Miguel has been playing fantasy football for 22 years. He grew up in Los Angeles, raised by a single father who was a maths lover.

As a kid, Miguel would collect baseball cards. His father had him calculate the value of his portfolio of cards each month using the Beckett Baseball Monthly magazine. One day, his dad bought him a 1993 NFL Season preview magazine. Inside, there was a full page ad for fantasy football. Together, they built Miguel’s roster, mailed in his lineup, and he was hooked.

“We fell in love with it. When I went to college, I started playing online. I’ve seen fantasy football go from a one-page ad with less than 100,000 participants to the Internet. Then, it caught fire on Wall Street and everyone was playing.”

A front row seat

After graduating from Stanford, Miguel began his career on Wall Street as a trader at Morgan Stanley. He spent 11 years in finance running a $US300 million proprietary trading portfolio at the bank before moving to a $US3 billion hedge fund and later launching a technology, media, and telecommunications hedge fund with legendary investor David Siminoff.

Shortly after he arrived at Morgan Stanley in 2003, he was called into a meeting with some managing directors.

“When you’re a first year analyst, it’s nearly impossible to land a meeting with a managing director. Once the rumours about my fantasy football background started spreading, a few senior traders approached me, ‘We heard a rumour you’ve been playing fantasy football for ten years. Our draft is coming up. Who should we take in the first round?'”

There’s a lot of pressure to make sure you draft well for the boss, he said. Do it right, and you ensure them 16 weeks of happiness. Get it wrong and you wouldn’t want to show up to work the next day.

Miguel, 22 at the time, did it right. One top trader at another bank even referred to Miguel as “the Goldman Sachs of fantasy football.”

“Not many things in life will put a bigger smile on their face than winning their fantasy football league,” he said.

The PocketGM team

PocketGM launched in early August, just in time for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Annual Enshrinement Ceremony. In a little over a month, the app ranked as high as No. 2 for daily fantasy football in the App Store and in the top ten for eight other categories.

Aside from Miguel, the Pocket GM team consists of former Bain consultant Jason Chilton, the app’s head of content; former Goldman Sachs trader Will Mclellarn, the app’s COO; former JPMorgan investment banker and private equity veteran Oz Calvario, the app’s CFO; and former NFL player and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, an athlete liaison/advisor for the app.

Other athletes involved in the company as “featured players” are Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen.

The app’s senior engineer is Alex Adamson, mathematical computer science grad who is working on his master’s at Stanford.

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