AFTAs 2018: Best Third-Party Technology Vendor CEO or CIO—Alap Shah, Sentieo

Daniel Berman accepted Alap Shah’s award on his behalf.

Alap Shah, CEO of Sentieo, a New York-based financial research platform developed specifically for buy-side analysts, wins this year’s AFTA for the best third-party technology vendor CEO or CIO. The Sentieo story started back in 2012 when Shah and his brother, Naman, co-founded and bootstrapped Sentieo, while additional funding—approximately 20 percent—came from angel investors. In March 2018, Sentieo secured $6 million of additional funding, led by Clocktower Ventures and Long Focus Capital, along with a number of angel investor and investment management executives. More recently, it closed a $19 million Series-A funding round in October. Under Shah’s guidance, the firm has grown to 150 full-time staff and its client roster has more than 600 firms, including six of the industry’s top ten hedge funds (in AUM), more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies, and a number of investment banks and asset managers. 

When it comes to startups, necessity is often the mother of invention, and in this respect, Sentieo is no different: Shah’s experience as a former analyst was key to founding and developing the firm. After graduating from Harvard, Shah worked as an analyst at Viking Global Investors and in Citadel’s Global Equities business. He worked with Naman to build Sentieo out of frustration with his own research tools, which he says were unable to process information on hundreds of companies on a daily basis. And so Sentieo was born, a single, integrated application underpinned by Thomson Reuters and Factset fundamental data that sits on users’ terminals, featuring Excel, Evernote, chat and document search functionality. Its database covers more than 20 million financial documents from 64,000 global companies, while its search algorithms allow analysts to comb through in excess of 20 million financial documents to find keyword mentions and visualize their frequency, as well as tag and collaborate on key text in company filings, transcripts, broker research and news articles. 

“In 2018, we continued to develop and refine our product offerings, and invested heavily in natural-language processing, machine learning and data science,” Shah explains. “In April, we introduced Sentieo Transcript Intelligence Report, which provides automatic analysis on how sentiment and keywords for a given company have changed across quarters.”

In December, Sentieo unveiled its Table Extraction suite, which, according to Shah, uses machine learning to transform financial tables into time series through a single click. “We’ve also continued to release a host of improvements to our core search technology,” he says. “These enhancements further empowered our clients to augment research and information management abilities.”

Past recipients of this award include IPC Systems’ Neil Barua (2017) and Steve O’Hanlon from Numerix (2016).

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