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William O'Brien
Chief Executive Officer
Direct Edge
Last year: 19

"Data has dominated a lot of our efforts in the past 12 months around cost, policy, product innovation and performance," reports Direct Edge CEO William O'Brien. In February the Jersey City, New Jersey–based operator of the EDGA and EDGX exchanges announced EdgeBook Cloud, a trade-and-quote data warehouse maintained in the Xignite cloud computing network. "To be able to provide that in a centralized source that is constantly updated and constantly queryable on demand in very finite amounts for a cost of only a couple hundred dollars a month is really powerful," says O'Brien, 41, a lawyer and former Nasdaq Stock Market executive who joined Direct Edge when Knight Capital Group spun it off in 2007. He managed Direct Edge's upgrade to full exchange status in 2010. The company, which counts itself among the exchange world's Big Four (with BATS Global Markets, Nasdaq OMX Group and NYSE Euronext), has also been focused on the efficiency of its "data dissemination architecture," says O'Brien, who considers it "on an equal footing with the performance of our execution infrastructure." In June, Direct Edge launched a rebate program to ease messaging bottlenecks by "empowering people to be aware of the disparate impact of their activity and giving them a tangible benefit for their level of activity," explains O'Brien.