IEX CEO to Nasdaq, NYSE: “Thanks for the help”
(This article first appeared on MarketWatch)
When IEX, the star of Michael Lewis’s book “Flash Boys,” sought to become a verified stock exchange, the dominant established exchanges openly fought against it, leading to a nearly yearlong travail for the startup.
Now that IEX has received its long-awaited stamp of approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chief Executive Brad Katsuyama has a message for Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange: Thanks for your help.
“The silver lining to this 270-day process we just went through was the fact that it made our competition’s argument very transparent,” Katsuyama said in an interview with MarketWatch on Monday. “I think a lot of people looked at the way New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq NDAQ, +0.14% approached this and realized there is something at stake there.”
IEX’s exchange slows down trades by 350 microseconds through the use of a coiled cable, which is meant to negate perceived advantages gained by high-speed traders and others who pay to establish superfast connections to exchanges. After Lewis’s book widely publicized the issue, many pooh-poohed the idea that traders and exchanges were benefiting unfairly from the relationship, but Katsuyama believes that the truth was exposed by the vocal opposition to his attempt at a solution.
“I think in the end, there were a lot of things said publicly that are a part of history and we’re going to make sure people don’t forget what side of the fence they fell on,” he said.
IEX clarified that Katsuyama did not personally relish the criticism, but felt it will be helpful in the future, especially as others who hope to make changes to the markets walk a similar path. For instance, Katsuyama said he has met more than once with Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who hopes to establish an exchange with governance rules meant to force companies to adopt a long-term investment strategy.
“Hopefully, IEX has given others who believe there are opportunities for disruption in their own specific areas hope that the system can change and that the markets are a great force to enact that change,” Katsuyama said. “Hopefully, the next traveler has an easier road than we did.”
Even with those hopes, though, Katsuyama said he was glad that IEX had to traverse its own tough road.
“I don’t think we’d change a thing,” he said.
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