Wall Street’s brightest minds battled it out on Saturday by hitting multiple locations around NYC to solve intricate, immersive puzzles, while raising more than $1 million for charity Good Shepherd.
Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Bridgewater Capital, Element Capital (which sponsored the event), PDT Partners, Barclays, BNP Paribas, and more offered up brainy employees, paying $30,000 a team, for the event called Compass.
Running for over 14 hours and ending at 4 a.m., analysts, quants, and math savants ran around to locations including Papillion restaurant, RPM Underground karaoke bar, and the Museum of Art and Design to decode and decipher elaborate clues in a murder mystery.
In one puzzle, a tap dancer clacked away on multiple screens at Spyspace, the city’s museum dedicated, appropriately, to spycraft. Teams also met with murder mystery writer Jeff Markowitz, who wrote a book that mirrored the day’s action, and was part of the game himself.
At Central Park, a psychic sat in the rain as competitors attempted to figure out a secret password before she gave them a glowing crystal ball that grew brighter as they neared their next destination. Elie Wiesel’s son and former CIO of Goldman Sachs Elisha Wiesel — who co-created the original puzzle event, then called “Midnight Madness” — was spotted on his bike in a poncho in the rain attempting to get the next clue.
One segment even included The Post — with competitors having to locate a newsstand, and then solve elaborate puzzles hidden in the day’s edition.
The action ended at New World Stages with contestants acting out a play on the theater’s stage during an audition for a fake casting director, who took his part so seriously that he ad-libbed lines like, “Tell Ben Affleck to stop calling me” while shouting into his phone.
Coming in first was a team sponsored by Secor founder Ray Iwanowski. In second was a team comprised of employees from Google and Two Sigma, who traveled in for the event.
Puzzle gods Colin Teichholtz and Ben Hoffstein, both on the board of the charity, co-organized and helped design the large-scale event with help from production company Gotham Immersive Labs.
“I think sometimes Wall Street people are completely misunderstood,” Teicholtz tells us. “Most of the people I know who have been really successful love what they do, love solving the puzzles that always come up in markets. It’s no surprise to me that those same people love solving the crazy complicated puzzles we create for them in Compass. And of course Wall Street people are very competitive and love to prove that they can outsmart each other and also the puzzle creators.”
When it came down to planning, “This year was particularly challenging given COVID,” Hoffstein told us. “During the planning process, we weren’t sure what venues would be open, what restrictions might be, or how many teams would ultimately show up. So seeing over 140 people at the starting line, excited to be together and ready to take on the gauntlet of puzzles was extremely gratifying. It was a bit of escapism, but had a real impact on helping Good Shepherd.”
The charity runs more than 80 programs helping children and families in struggling communities.