CEO Chat: Mohan Virdee, Markets Media
What was your vision when founding the company 10 years ago?
We strongly felt that there was a gap in the market in terms of publishing and news companies not effectively covering what was happening in the electronic trading space across asset classes. Financial markets were shifting across different sectors — exchanges were going public and starting to compete with broker-dealers, new trading platforms were emerging, and overall the market was getting much more automated — and no one was really doing a good job covering it.
What do you recall about the very early days of the company, i.e. late 2007 into early 2008?
Well we had probably enough money to keep going for four months, so it was a huge risk. But we focused on fighting what I would call the little battles every day, and trying to win them. That could mean landing a customer, or a big interview or conference speaker. We came out of the gate really fast, as we launched a magazine, a daily online new service, and also conferences. All three of those things fed into each other, and again, no large publishing companies were doing anything like that at the time.
How traumatic was financial crisis, for Markets Media and its customers?
It was very traumatic. I remember reading the Wall Street Journal cover following the Lehman Brothers collapse and thinking, “I’m not sure we’re going to survive this.” We knew a crisis was coming even before we launched, and from previous crises — say the end of the tech bubble in 2000, LTCM in 1998 — typically you can count on losing about 30% of your revenue. So we adjusted our forecasts and budgets, but it turned out to be a lot worse than any preceding crisis. But somehow we made it through.
What are some highlights of the past 10 years?
There have been many different highlights. We won awards for our coverage of high-frequency trading in 2009. We managed to survive the crisis, and by 2010-11 we were having our best years in terms of revenue and success. ‘Flash Boys’ in 2014 didn’t help the market at all, in fact it killed volume, so we had to almost reinvent the company and replace a lot of the lost bank revenue with revenue from technology companies, which is still ongoing. Then in 2016, the acquisition of Traders Magazine trebled our footprint in North America fueling our advertising offerings
What do you see for the next 10 years?
A lack of volume growth and existential questions are big-picture concerns.
OMS-EMS integration, transparency, and research integration are predicted.
Some market participants would say it has felt more like 100 years.
For better or for worse, Lewis tome made a big splash in electronic markets.
Innovation and regulation have redefined financial technology.