Liquidnet Holdings chief executive Seth Merrin has solved more than one financial industry problem disruptively in the most technologically positive sense of the term. The former risk arbitrage traders 1985 start-up, Merrin Financial, introduced the first of the now ubiquitous buy-side order management systems. In the 1990s he co-founded VIE Systems, a developer of application integration software for large financial enterprises. In 2000 he founded New Yorkbased Liquidnet to solve the problem institutions have when they trade. Enabling asset managers that had grown wary of exposing large orders on exchanges to trade peer-to-peer, Liquidnet is still proving the viability of 53-year-old Merrins vision. It operates in 42 countries; 750 asset managers with an aggregate $13 trillion under management are providing liquidity; and the average execution of 42,000 shares is at least 150 times that of exchanges and other venues. Merrins global sights are not limited to his core trading business: Liquidnet has joined with the Milken Institute in the Access to Global Capital Initiative to promote foreign investment flows. Fifty years ago Singapore and Jamaica had the same GDP; South Korea and Ghana had the same GDP, Merrin notes. You can see the different trajectories. Singapore and South Korea are among the pioneers who did it on their own, he adds, but we understand that playbook.
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