Brandeis students sweep contest to find the next great tycoon
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Brandeis International Business School students took first, second, and third place in the weeklong game against Ivy League students to see who would be the most successful Wall Street-style tycoon.
Ansarada, an Australian data company used by global investment banks to distribute documents to potential investors securely, created the mergers and acquisitions game and unleashed it among a select group of finance students, dubbing it an event for "Legends in the M&Aking."
While the "M&A Game" app is widely available, the competition was open only to students from Brandeis, Columbia University, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.
Players create an avatar, name their holding company, and choose from qualities they want to possess in negotiations, such as charisma, or, yes, deception. Players then begin making quick decisions based on opportunities they are presented to buy and sell companies based on their bottom line performance. Success can bring with it the chance to own private jets and yachts.
Xiaomin Han, the 26-year-old first-place winner, said she haggled and cajoled her way to the number one spot during the buying and selling competition, seizing quickly on offers as they popped up and never paying top dollar for a company she wanted to buy.
She said she ended the competition with 150 in imaginary tech and telecom companies and capital of $45 trillion in her portfolio.
Han, a native of Shanghai, is a soft-spoken would-be business magnate. The Brandeis graduate student was an environmental studies undergraduate major at the University of Minnesota who admires entrepreneur Elon Musk. At one point, she said, she owned so many companies (400) that her iPhone began to slow, prompting her to sell some.
She said it helped that she checked the game on her phone every 10 minutes during her waking hours to look for new business opportunities. The game brought out the competitive streak in Han, who graduates Brandeis in May.
"You have to walk away from companies that aren't the right price," said Han, who likes solving math and physics puzzles and working out in her free time. She added that she continued to check her phone even while at the gym.
She said she didn't think much about her opponents, most of whom she has never met, except when she checked the standings.
"This is something I find really, really fun," she said. "It's not about beating other people, but doing the best on my own and seeing how many things I can make possible."
Her fellow Brandeis students, Angie Wu, 22 of Quincy, and Riddhish Rege, 23, a Mumbai native who lives in Boston, took second and third respectively.
Ansarada will host a winners reception on Friday in New York to award them $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 for first, second, and third place, respectively. They will also be introduced to investment firm executives that will be in attendance and may be interested in recruiting them.
Adam Goodman, a director at Ansarada's New York office, said all the participants could one day be clients of Ansarada. "Nice job, Boston,'' Goodman said. "And it's not often you're going to hear a New Yorker say that."