Lee Olesky
Tradeweb Markets

Having introduced institutional electronic trading of U.S. Treasury securities in 1998 and added more than 20 asset classes to its now-global platform, Tradeweb Markets did not just overcome the long odds that any start-up faces. The company also survived the turn-of-the-century bubble, when dozens of aspirants failed to gain footholds in online fixed-income trading. Lee Olesky, who had a hand in the original business plan approved by his then-employer, Credit Suisse First Boston, 20 years ago, says he can’t point to any single event or decision that got Tradeweb over the hump. He talks instead about day-to-day consistency and improvement in performance and service, saying, “Every day we come in excited about innovating. There is no endgame.” The founding chairman of New York–based Tradeweb, Olesky left Credit Suisse — a member of the ownership consortium now led by Thomson Reuters — to start another joint venture platform, BrokerTec Global, which ICAP acquired in 2002. He returned to Tradeweb as president and has been CEO since 2008. The 54-year-old espouses a wave theory of market evolution, and Tradeweb caught two big ones: the 1990s Internet-fueled boom and the post–global financial crisis swap execution facility mandate for over-the-counter derivatives. “Change creates opportunity,” Olesky says, “and each wave produces winners.” Citing a confluence of regulatory, liquidity and cost issues, he adds, “We are the beginning of the next wave of change.” On cue, there is a boomlet in new platforms like Direct Match, Electronifie, Liquidnet Fixed Income (see Seth Merrin, No. 22) and Trumid Financial. The CEO says Tradeweb, which has more than 275 technology employees and 850-plus overall, is “uniquely situated” across three segments: institutional, or dealer-to-customer, on Tradeweb; wholesale, or interdealer, through its Dealerweb unit; and retail through Tradeweb Direct. In February, Tradeweb launched its U.S. marketplace for exchange-traded funds after handling more than €200 billion ($226 billion) in notional ETF volume in Europe since 2012. In March the company acquired trade-data and workflow-management software company CodeStreet, part of a bet Olesky is placing on data science as increasingly crucial to “finding the other side of a trade” and other analytical needs.

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