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The 2016 Tech 50: Seth Merrin

The Liquidnet Holdings CEO jumps to No. 22 on this year’s Tech 50 ranking.

  • By Peter Vasiliev

22
Seth Merrin
Chief Executive Officer
Liquidnet Holdings

“Our goal is to make markets more efficient,” Seth Merrin says. “The only way we know how to do this is with technology.” Merrin is proving the point with 15-year-old trading platform operator Liquidnet Holdings, and not for the first time. Three decades ago he left a risk arbitrage trading job at CIBC Oppenheimer to start Merrin Financial, which transformed buy-side trading with its invention of the order management system. After co-founding another start-up, application-integration software company VIE Systems, in the 1990s, Merrin launched Liquidnet, a pioneering dark pool handling large block orders — currently averaging more than 42,000 shares ($1.8 million principal) — that are difficult for investment managers to execute on open exchanges. More than 800 member firms with $14 trillion in combined assets under management are currently trading in 44 markets around the world. New York–based Liquidnet’s first-quarter U.S. average daily volume of 46 million shares was up 21 percent year-over-year, and the firm also set records in other regions. Last September, with Liquidnet Fixed Income, the firm brought its ethos of reinvention into the corporate bond market, setting a minimum order size of $500,000. “It’s pretty absurd if in this day and age you can only trade a bond through a human being,” Merrin says. The platform now has 135 member firms trading $2 billion in corporate names, and the 56-year-old CEO anticipates steady growth because “people in this industry need to see you’re the winner” before later adopters will sign on. Merrin expects further opportunity in equity execution and quantitative services, filling gaps left by the retreat of big, capital-constrained banks. Liquidnet has developed an electronic “high-touch trader” to provide copilotlike order advice and monitoring. Targeted Invitations, launched in Europe late last year and available globally as of April, extends the block-trading model by “taking on one of the last bastions of inefficiency for the buy side: the sales trading process,” according to Merrin. These targeted block trades have been averaging 98,000 shares.

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The 2016 Tech 50

1. Catherine
Bessant
Bank of America Corp.
2. Jeffrey Sprecher
Intercontinental Exchange
3. Lance Uggla
Markit
4. Phupinder Gill
CME Group
5. Shawn Edwards and Vlad Kliatchko
Bloomberg
6. R. Martin Chavez
Goldman Sachs Group
7. Robert Goldstein
BlackRock
8. Adena Friedman
Nasdaq
9. Deborah Hopkins
Citi Ventures
10. Daniel Coleman
KCG Holdings
11. Stephen Neff
Fidelity Investments
12. David Craig
Thomson Reuters
13. Michael Spencer
ICAP
14. Michael Bodson
Depository Trust & Clearing Corp.
15. Charles Li
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
16. Chris Concannon
BATS Global Markets
17. Blythe Masters
Digital Asset Holdings
18. David Rutter
R3CEV
19. Neil Katz
D.E. Shaw & Co.
20. Lee Olesky
Tradeweb Markets
21. Richard McVey
MarketAxess Holdings
22. Seth Merrin
Liquidnet Holdings
23. Robert Alexander
Capital One Financial Corp.
24. Brad Katsuyama
IEX Group
25. Antoine Shagoury
State Street Corp.
26. David Gledhill
DBS Bank
27. Lou Eccleston
TMX Group
28. Andreas Preuss
Deutsche BÖrse
29. Dan Schulman
PayPal Holdings
30. Scott Dillon
Wells Fargo & Co.
31. Mike Chinn
S&P Global Market Intelligence
32. Craig Donohue
Options Clearing Corp.
33. Gary Norcross
Fidelity National Information Services
34. Steven O'Hanlon
Numerix
35. Sebastián Ceria
Axioma
36. Michael Cooper
BT Radianz
37. Tyler Kim
MaplesFS
38. Neal Pawar
AQR Capital Management
39. David Harding
Winton Capital Management
40. Chris Corrado
London Stock Exchange Group
41. Brian Conlon
First Derivatives
42. Jim Minnick
eVestment
43. Stephane Dubois
Xignite
44. Mazy Dar
OpenFin
45. Yasuki Okai
NRI Holdings America
46. Kim Fournais
Saxo Bank
47. Jock Percy
Perseus
48. Robert Schifellite
Broadridge Financial Solutions
49. Brian Sentance
Xenomorph Software
50. Pieter van der Does
Adyen

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