Meet The Team: A Q&A with Huddle’s Lead Quantitative Analyst, Jacopo Astolfi

April 18, 2024

Meet The Team: A Q&A with Huddle’s Lead Quantitative Analyst, Jacopo Astolfi

Meet Jacopo Astolfi, Lead Quantitative Analyst at Huddle. Jacopo's passion for innovation and technological advancement led him to Huddle, where he found the perfect alignment of vision and expertise. As a Lead Quantitative Analyst, Jacopo is at the forefront of developing and maintaining pricing models, fostering team growth, and driving collaboration across departments. Join us as we delve into Jacopo's insights, projects, and aspirations for Huddle's future.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and professional journey? What initially drew you to the sports betting industry, and how did your experiences at Dervico Sports and Ladbrokes shaped your career?

    My career in the world of betting started somewhat by chance in 2014 during an internship at Ladbrokes. I was completing my Master's in mathematics when the opportunity arose to work on a project involving price modeling in the Betting Exchange. I liked the idea a lot and applied to join the intern team. From there, everything moved very quickly, and within 9 months, I completed my studies and moved to London where I joined Ladbrokes' quant team. At Ladbrokes, I was fortunate to work closely with an exceptional trading team from whom I learned a great deal about the world of betting. There, I came into contact with the first mathematical models that are at the heart of trading platforms and had the opportunity to deepen my understanding of new programming concepts. From there, the opportunity arose to join a very young quant team at Derivco, where I stayed for almost 5 years. 

    My time at Derivco was essential for my professional development. Following a year, upon being promoted to team lead, I gained the chance to delve into more managerial responsibilities. From a technical standpoint, these were the years when Same Game Parlay rose in popularity and formed a significant portion of the product that I actively contributed to developing.

    What attracted you to join Huddle, and what were your first impressions of the company when you started?

      Huddle was the natural progression of my career. I knew some of the senior managers and the CEO, Francesco, very well, and from the first conversations, I understood that the company's vision aligned perfectly with what I am most passionate about. Working on a platform that is so technologically advanced and built by true experts in the field played a crucial role in the decision to join the team. Finding a team of real talents, a truly agile environment, and a great culture confirmed that joining Huddle was the right decision.

      What are the primary responsibilities and objectives of your role as a Lead Quantitative Analyst at Huddle?

        As Lead Quantitative Analyst at Huddle, my main responsibility is to help the quant team develop and maintain pricing models and create the conditions for members of my team to contribute effectively to the product and grow professionally. The role is not entirely managerial; in fact, a good part of my time is dedicated to actual code development. An essential aspect of the role is continuous collaboration with other teams to make platform development as efficient as possible by removing blockers and creating flexible solutions.

        Can you discuss any specific projects or initiatives you're currently leading or involved in, and their significance to Huddle's objectives?

          One of the projects we are currently working on is a further refinement of player props and micros for the next NBA season. The main challenge in building such models is to have an infrastructure that can capture the different playing styles of teams and players while maintaining optimal simulation speeds. The constant collaboration between teams of Trading, Product, Analytics, and Data Engineering has been crucial in finding the correct implementation solutions and I have no doubt about the success of the final product.

          Can you share a recent success story or milestone achieved by your team?

            Recently, we completed and released a new ice hockey model that includes micro markets, player props, and same game parlay. Having dedicated time and resources over the years to developing a high-performing and flexible platform, the model implementation process occurred in record time and with minimal impact in terms of resources across the various involved teams.

            We discussed previously with Huddle’s VP of Analytics, Gabriele, on bringing together two teams (quant and analytics) from seemingly different backgrounds under the same leadership. In what ways does the collaboration between the data engineering and quant teams contribute to the overall success and effectiveness of Huddle's data-driven initiatives?

              As Gabriele mentioned, having quants and data engineering under the same roof significantly reduces the time that would otherwise be spent between data management and their utilization in pricing models. An important part of the quants' work is to estimate game after game key quantities that allow the model to adapt to the playing styles of teams and players and more generally to track changes in interpreting a sport. By working closely with the Data Engineering team, we have made this process smooth and extremely flexible for any future changes.

              Looking ahead, what are your long-term goals and aspirations for Huddle's product/technology roadmap, and how do you plan to achieve them?

                Huddle is currently at a pivotal juncture. With our strong foundation in place, our goal is to further solidify our position in the industry. Our long-term strategy involves expanding, recruiting fresh talent, and enhancing our product offerings. While our roadmap for the next 6-12 months is ambitious, we are confident in our abilities to reach lofty goals. I am excited to play a role in shaping the future of Huddle.

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