MEMX Celebrates Five Years of Innovation and Growth in the Financial Exchange Market

Apr 26, 2024

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

As MEMX marks its fifth anniversary, CEO Jonathan Kellner reflected on the company’s significant strides in reshaping the financial exchange landscape through cutting-edge technology and a robust corporate culture in an interview at the FIA International Futures Industry Conference in Boca Raton, FL in March. Kellner spoke to John Lothian News for the JLN Industry Leader video series sponsored by Wedbush.

MEMX was founded with the vision to intensify competition in the financial markets and has swiftly ascended to a prominent position among U.S. exchanges, Kellner said.

“The vision was to bring competition to market with innovative technology…we’ve proven ourselves to be able to do it across asset class(es),” said Kellner. MEMX developed three lines of business: an equities exchange, an options exchange and a technology licensing business, he said. The equity exchange was launched during the pandemic and already has a 5 percent market share, Kellner said, noting it “became the sixth largest exchange in the US.”

MEMX launched its options exchange in September of 2023 and is approaching a 2 percent market share, he said. The third line of business is licensing and running its technology for other exchanges, Kellner said. Kellner is “really proud of what we’ve been able to build across those three different business lines,” he said.

There is a diverse set of markets using the MEMX technology that vary by asset class, he said. “What’s unique about what we built is we built a common platform that we run our exchanges off. So it’s asset agnostic,” Kellner said. This move has allowed MEMX to extend its technological prowess to a broader audience, enhancing operational efficiencies across the market.

MEMX has been outspoken about regulatory issues and Kellner said there is broad support for tick size reform and if it is done right, it will get broad support from the industry. The devil is in the details, he said, but if it goes the way he expects, it could improve the markets and put money back into retail investor’s hands.

Another key element of MEMX’s success is the culture of the organization. “When we started MEMX, I knew that culture was one of the most important things that you need to build when you’re building a startup. And we’re really focused on that,” he said.

MEMX was together for nine months before the 2019 pandemic hit before it launched its equity exchange. Kellner praised the company’s efficient transition to remote operations, which has maintained, if not enhanced, team productivity and morale.

“We were quickly able to go home because everything we built, at least internally, was cloud-based… People are accessible when they need them, but they feel like they have freedom,” he said.

MEMX used tools like Slack and Zoom to collaborate and create efficiency, Kellner said. “Focusing on culture… has allowed us to deliver all these things and support in such a short time for MEMX,” he said.

In a playful nod to the past, MEMX is also embracing a bit of retro flair as it celebrates its fifth anniversary. Kellner was sporting a MEMX Members Only jacket during the interview, a cheeky homage to the iconic 1980s fashion staple. He said when the exchange was named the Members Exchange, his friends jokingly asked if they were going to get Members Only jackets as swag giveaways.

“Now that we’re five years old, we think it’s time,” Kellner quipped. This sartorial throwback not only serves as a fun memento for its clients but underscores MEMX’s blend of serious financial innovation with a sense of humor and nostalgia. Who says you can’t discuss market shares and wear vintage fashion?

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