3. Bradley Peterson
Chief Information Officer
Last year: 5

Electronic stock quotes and trading methods were building blocks of Nasdaq as early as the 1970s. Today the global exchange operator prides itself on its technology, something it has in common with stalwarts like Alphabet (Google), Apple, and Microsoft that are listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Senior management has the pedigree. Chair Robert Greifeld, before serving as CEO from 2003 through 2016, was a financial technology entrepreneur and a senior executive of SunGard Data Systems. Adena Friedman, who started as an intern in 1993 and has had a hand in many of Nasdaq's growth initiatives and acquisitions, took over as CEO in January. In chief information officer Bradley Peterson, the company has leading- and bleeding-edge street cred.

A former CIO at eBay and Charles Schwab Corp. who took the executive vice president–level post at Nasdaq in 2013, Peterson regularly visits Silicon Valley, where he has a home and maintains close ties with the venture capitalists of Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and other firms that open doors to emerging technology and innovation. A technological engine in itself, Nasdaq has development centers in Boston, New York, Denver, the San Francisco area; Sydney; Bangalore, India; Vilnius, Lithuania; and Stockholm. "From an operational standpoint, we can follow the sun," keeping R&D teams operating around the clock, Peterson, 57, explains. "And we can tap into innovation," which likewise is well dispersed around the globe.

A measurable, bottom-line impact is Nasdaq Market Technology, a business unit headed by EVP Lars Ottersgård, which has supplied systems to more than 85 marketplaces in 50 countries. It accounted for $275 million of Nasdaq's $2.3 billion in total revenue last year and expanded relationships with the likes of the Australian Securities Exchange, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, and Switzerland's SIX Group. Meanwhile, Nasdaq unveiled a new modular architecture, the Financial Framework, to make it easier to add components and take advantage of blockchain, machine learning, and other advances. Nasdaq is in the forefront of financial industry experimentation with blockchain. Its San Francisco–based partner, Chain, has been integrated into the Financial Framework, and Peterson says, "We are open and agnostic with respect to Ethereum, Hyperledger, and other frameworks that emerge." Nasdaq has worked with its Tallinn exchange and the government of Estonia to record electronic proxy votes securely on the blockchain.

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