4. Brad Levy
Chief Executive Officer
Last year: 6

The July merger of broad-based information and analytics company IHS with financial industry–focused Markit created IHS Markit, with nearly $3 billion in annual revenue, a $16 billion market cap, and 50,000 customers worldwide. Brad Levy says that from where he sits, "not much has changed." But that is to be taken with a grain of salt. While running two businesses — as CEO of MarkitSERV, a leading derivatives processor; and IHS Markit's global head of loans, servicing the syndicated loan market — Levy is drawn to disruptions. They fall mainly under the categories of blockchain, collaboration, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Exploratory blockchain, or distributed ledger, activities have accelerated over the past year. An internal working group known as the chain gang has doubled in size to more than a dozen people, who in turn have doubled the amount of time they spend on distributed ledger technology, Levy says. MarkitSERV trade confirmations on credit default swaps were used in a test of posttrade smart contracts completed last year with the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., four major banks, and software company Axoni. "The success of this initiative reinforces our commitment to continued development of blockchain technology in CDS, other asset classes, and financial industry processes more generally," Levy said in April. He describes his attitude as "patient urgency," not swept away by the earlier bubble of blockchain exuberance, and understanding that it will "take some time" to sort out the complexities. "I believe we will find some efficiencies first — as we already are doing — and the real disruption will come later," the 46-year-old says.

He ponders long-run opportunities for collaboration and workflow improvement as a director of the Symphony Foundation, which was formed in 2015 to promote open source innovation on the Symphony Communication Services secure messaging platform. Symphony began as a Goldman Sachs Group initiative and was spun out as a consortium, and Markit, which earlier had created its own collaboration services platform, became an active partner. Levy spent 17 years with Goldman and headed its principal strategic investments group before joining Markit in 2012.

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