04.06.2016
By Rob Daly

Bill O’Brien Joins Direct Match

After almost two years out of Wall Street’s public eye, former Direct Edge CEO William O’Brien has surfaced as the executive chairman of Direct Match, a startup electronic treasury-trading platform operator.

“Bill’s market structure expertise across all asset classes coupled with his understanding of electronic trading and prior success in leading high-growth companies, make him and ideal chairman for Direct Match,” said Jim Greco, founder and CEO of Direct Match.

“I was drawn to Direct Match because it is at a very similar stage when compared to my tenure at Direct Edge,” O’Brien added. “It was at a similar size in terms of the number of employees at a very early stage. Direct Match has 19 employees and Direct Edge had 18 employees when I arrived in 2007”.

William, O'Brien,Direct Match

William O’Brien,
Direct Match

O’Brien started working in electronic markets in 2000, when we was named chief operating officer of Brut ECN. Four years later, he moved to Nasdaq, where he focused on markets, new listings and data distribution business lines.

O’Brien is best known for his tenure as CEO of Direct Edge, which launched in 2007.

While there, he grew the alternative trading system’s dual matching engine operations model to one of the top four stock exchanges until he negotiated the Direct Edge’s acquisition by competing exchange operator Bats Global Markets at the start of 2014.

After the transaction, O’Brien remained at Bats for six months before departing in July 2014.

In his new position, O’Brien will contribute to to the Direct Match’s overall strategy, development, and operations, according to a corporate announcement.

Much of his focus over the next few quarters will be spent preparing for the launch of Direct Match’s trading platform, which uses a central limit order book to match trades in a price-time priority.

“When trying to build an all-to-all market, you have a lot of different constituents, such as traditional dealers, proprietary trading firms and the buy-side community of investors,” Greco told Markets Media. “Getting them all together takes some time.”

So far Direct Match has signed up five undisclosed firms that have committed to provide liquidity on the platform once it is up and running.

The firm also finished its Series A round of funding in late January, in which no dealer or proprietary trading firm participated, according to Greco.

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