Rick Lane, the new CEO of Trading Technologies, takes a seat at the bar to talk about a notable milestone – TT’s 20th Anniversary today.
The interesting thing about Lane and the bar is that they represent a major shift for the company and perhaps the industry.
The firm was founded in 1994 in Frankfurt by Gary Kemp and later run by the enigmatic industry pioneer and legendary trader Harris Brumfield from 2003 until he handed the reins to Lane in February. It is Lane’s turn to overhaul the company and its technology, and perhaps change the way trading software and networks are developed in this industry.
Kemp, who stepped down from the CEO post in 2002, should not be taken for granted. His development of electronic trading software led to the creation of TT’s now famous and fiercely protected “price ladder” found in TT’s well regarded MD Trader software. He was also one of the developers who worked on the groundbreaking all-electronic platform in 1994 known then as the Deutsche Terminborse (DTB), later renamed Eurex.
Brumfield, who shook up the industry with his electronic trading firm, also raised the debate over who actually provides the distribution infrastructure for the futures industry. In his 2004 op/ed piece, Brumfield proposed giving up all of TT’s intellectual property to the industry for free if the exchanges would pay a 2.5 cent fee on every trade, forever. That offer, rejected by exchanges, was largely triggered by his prediction that ISVs, often thought of as the arteries of the financial markets, would not be able to survive without the exchanges providing revenues to support their efforts. And in some ways, he was correct. Many of the ISVs have disappeared over the past decade and many others are in financial trouble, along with some notable FCMs.
But Brumfield was much more than an exchange provocateur and the guy who went on a patent defense binge that rankled many in the industry. His insight and guidance, from a trader’s perspective, was critical to the design and functionality of TT’s software. Under his stewardship, TT grew into a global company and has consistently upgraded its X_Trader platform, TT’s Autospreader, and rolled out TTNet, a global access network along with co-location services. He also recognized talent and perhaps the future in 2010, when TT purchased Tickit Trading Systems, a budding trading software firm that was developing trading software in a unique and intuitive way, almost like Legos for algo traders.
That purchase brought in Lane and his Tickit colleagues, but it also paved the way for TT’s next generation of trading software, called Nextrader, which was created using HTML 5 and incorporates TT co-location servers as well as the ‘cloud.’
The bar Lane is sitting at belongs to TT; the company has a bar and lounge inside its newly renovated office, one staircase below its game room. The open floor plan is designed to encourage developers and staff to bring in their own laptops and devices to work on things away from their desks, to collaborate, test and talk in a comfortable setting. Lane says that the industry and TT has changed dramatically over the past 20 years.
“We weren’t leading the industry, we were defining it,” he said of its early days.
But today, he acknowledges that the industry has matured greatly in terms of its function and the technology that drives it. Now, much of TT’s focus is not so much on expansion (although it is), but providing new and flexible technology in a way that will meet current customer needs. And from Lane’s perspective, TT absolutely must find a way to do so faster and cheaper. Whether customers are ready and able to embrace and benefit from Nextrader will be seen in the coming months and years.
Be it Kemp, Brumfield or Lane at the wheel, TT is faced with the same challenges – innovate, adapt and stay relevant.
“I think Nextrader will redefine accessibility and reset the expectations around the cost of technology,” Lane said, holding up his mobile phone. “Going forward, we have the technology team to stay nimble.”