Why Do You Hire a Super Salesman to Run Trading Technologies?

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

Tim Geannopulos replaces Rick Lane as Chairman and CEO of TT

Rick Lane is out at Trading Technologies as CEO and chairman, but still with the company in a non-titled supporting role for the time being, at a time when the company is rumored to be in the midst of a sale.

Tim Geannopulos, the former global head of sales at Trading Technologies and a major TT shareholder, is in as the new CEO and chairman, returning to the company after a stint as a consultant and start-up investor and fintech executive.

So why is this change occurring at a time when the company is reportedly for sale? There is not an easy answer, but my question in the title gives part of the answer, I think.

The heavy lifting at Trading Technologies to build a new SaaS platform in the cloud and migrate clients off of X_TRADER and onto the new platform is mostly done. Lane was the mastermind and the leader at TT who made that happen. He deserves a lot of credit for his leadership, technology foresight and the cool vibe he brought to the company. A lot of credit.

But the challenge in front of TT right now is not a technical one, designing a whole new way of doing things and having the whole world follow in your footsteps, as happened with Lane’s vision for the future of TT.

The challenge is how to sell TT. There have been rumors and stories about how TT was for sale. There was a story about how Goldman Sachs was the winner and a price was even suggested for the deal. TT had even hired its own investment banker a couple of years ago in Michael Kraines and made him company president and CFO, so you knew a deal would be coming sometime.

But Goldman buying TT has an issue. Why would all the banks that TT had sold their services to over the last decade and more want their competitor, Goldman Sachs at that, to own this essential piece of their trading infrastructure?

The answer is probably no one. FOW recently published a story where they said Goldman pulled out of the deal, probably after getting feedback from competitors.

And if none of the big banks or other customers would be willing to use the software with Goldman as the owner, then why would Goldman want to buy it? They would not, which is why the FOW story rings true.

So how do you sell TT? Or what are the next truly unpredictable steps for TT by Harris Brumfield, for whom TT is dear?  Well, you hire the most successful salesman at TT who sold the system into the major banks that are most likely balking at a Goldman Sachs purchase of the company. It is an unconventional move to hire Tim G to run TT, but no one ever accused Brumfield, the majority owner of TT, of being conventional.

Thus, we have a situation that calls for a highly skilled salesman and negotiator. The situation calls for someone who knows the company well and is motivated to get a sale done, not for the salary of the job, but for the payoff of the shares he owns. 

Enter Tim Geannopulos as the new chairman and CEO of TT.

Now, how does Geannopulos sell TT? Or, what are the alternatives? Those are the great questions only Harris Brumfield knows the answers to. And Harris might not know the answer yet.

But if you think about the relationships Geannopulos has and you look at the history of the industry, you start to think about a consortium of banks creating a new entity to run the company independently. This is kind of like what happened at ICE when banks and energy companies backed them to create an OTC market to compete against Enron Online. There are other consortiums too that have worked.

When TT completes the customer and liquidity migration to the new platform, it could be a game changer too. So Lane still has some work to do while Geannopulos brainstorms for consortiums and deals.

Who could make a consortium deal like that? A smart guy like Tim G. could. And if that is not the answer, then I would just look up Brumfield’s other sleeve.

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