In 1993, they were contacted by Nick Patterson, a Renaissance researcher they had met while doing code-breaking research for the Defense Department. "I realized that there are some deep technical links between the way speech recognition is done and some good ways of predicting the markets," Mr. Patterson says.
Mr. Brown threw away a letter from Mr. Patterson. Mr. Mercer, intrigued, paid Renaissance a visit. Afterwards, he persuaded his colleague they should make the move. After joining Renaissance, Mr. Mercer asked its chief scientist, Henry Laufer, whether the firm had a retirement plan. "The retirement plan is to get rich," Mr. Laufer responded.