“Some of the best things on the web are free,” muses Lance Uggla, CEO of Markit Group. “When I look at how financial markets will use technology to transform their networks of participants, I think the word ‘free’ has to be included.”

He is referring to the way Facebook and Google are free — and to the new commercial models they have spawned. The financial services industry is poised for its own Google-like revolution, says Uggla, who in ten years has built Markit into a global force in market information and transaction-processing services. No. 5 in this year’s Tech 50, Institutional Investor’s annual ranking of financial technology leaders and innovators, Uggla says he spends 10 to 15 percent of his time “thinking and talking with others about a free strategy and how disruptive it would be to today’s business model.”

See the full ranking, with profiles, here.

For last year's Tech 40, click here.

“Disruptive” is the operative word, and it is a thread running through the Tech 50. The idea harks back to The Innovator’s Dilemma, a 1997 book by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen that explained how long-entrenched, industry-leading companies can fail to anticipate “disruptive technologies” or seize the opportunities they present.