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A 36-year old quant trader created a tech startup worth billions of dollars to solve one the most difficult problems in the oil industry

Chase Lochmiller is the CEO and cofounder of Crusoe Energy. Chase Lochmiller

  • Chase Lochmiller, who had a stellar career in quant trading left Wall Street to scale Mount Everest.
  • He began to form the ideas that would lead to Crusoe Energy, a unicorn startup while on Everest.
  • Lochmiller’s team works with Exxon and other companies to resolve one of the oldest problems within the oil industry.

This story is Part of series which highlights top quant-trading professionals who left Wall Street to create startups.

Unorthodox locations can be a great place to start a startup. Chase Lochmiller’s startup idea was Mount Everest.

Lochmiller is cofounder and CEO at Crusoe Energy. This tech unicorn harvests excess methane oil fields to generate energy-intensive computing like cryptocurrency mining and AI research. After a decade of working in quantitative trading, Lochmiller decided to quit the world of quant trade and instead focus on a new goal: completing the Seven Summits, which is the highest mountain on each continent.

Lochmiller, who was born in Denver, Colorado, said that he was inspired by the mountains.

Lochmiller spent two months climbing Everest in Nepal and contemplated the changes in cryptocurrency as well as the developments in artificial intelligence which had transformed other industries. These trends were expected to continue to drive social advances. He wanted to help, but the right idea for a company had not yet emerged.

He had no plans for his future, and he didn’t know what he was going to do next.

Lochmiller stated, “What was wonderful about that? It gave me this completely free space and time for thinking about what I want to do.”

Cully Cavness was his old high school friend and he took him on a climbing trip to Colorado. They talked about the same topics he had discussed in Nepal. can’t be piped away is burnt off into the atmosphere — 144 billion cubic meters worth a year, or enough to power the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa, according

Cryptocurrency mining can be very energy-intensive. Imagine if the digital-mining equipment could be brought to the oil fields, and the energy that was wasted could be repurposed.

Lochmiller stated that flaring is an economic problem because there is no way to transport gas to a market where it can be used to benefit people. Computing is a singular application that is modular. You can transport data rather than the gas. Data is also much easier to transport than the gas.

Crusoe Energy was born from this experience. It was named after Robinson Crusoe (a fictional character who found himself on a deserted island).

Lochmiller didn’t expect to build unicorns and a career in quant trading. He had originally planned to be a theoretical physicist at MIT when he enrolled in 2004.

He discovered the slow pace of academic research and that dream was quickly dashed. After six years at Getco, he left. He spent his noncompete period studying for a master’s in computer science AI and embarking on his Seven Summits quest. Before starting at Getco in 2008, he had already conquered Mount Aconcagua, Argentina, and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Mount Vinson, Antarctica, was the next goal, which he completed around Christmas 2013. After the most tragic accident in mountain history, a failed attempt to climb Mount Everest was made in 2014.

Although Lochmiller considered pursuing a Ph.D., he accepted a job with Jump Trading to help build its equity-trading division.

Jump’s profits grew significantly and Jump made hundreds of millions. However, Lochmiller felt an urge to pursue other pursuits.

It’s an interesting problem from an academic point of view. It’s a great problem that requires a lot data, modeling and other cool mathematical techniques,” Lochmiller stated.

“At some point, I thought, If I looked back at my career in 20 years, and I did this, I would be disappointed by the impact I had on our world.”

He decided to leave Jump in the summer 2017 and join Polychain Capital. In the midst of crypto interest boom, assets grew to more than a billion dollars in less time. All this while staff lived in a two-bedroom loft located in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. This loft doubled as a home for Lochmiller and other staff members. The experience was “surreal,” he said.

He didn’t stay long. He and his wife had planned to have children. In 2018, Lochmiller left Polychain to try Mount Everest again before his paternal obligations kick in.

Later that year Lochmiller started Crusoe, which quickly gained momentum, especially since ESG concerns became more prominent among investors.

Bain Capital, Valor Equity, and the Founders Fund are some of the brand-name investors.

Crusoe’s mobile data centers can be towed behind a truck and connected via microwave towers and fiber-optic cables to remote oil fields. They have the ability to repurpose up 650,00 metric tons per year of flared gas, Lochmiller stated.

Although the company is present in a few states, such as North Dakota projects with Exxon Mobil, it plans to expand internationally. Crusoe also raised $350 million more funding in April at a value of $1.75billion.

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