Under the terms of the $3.4 billion merger that CBOE Holdings negotiated with Bats GlobalMarkets last September and completed on February 28, all CBOE businesses and products including the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the largest U.S. options market; and the vaunted CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) will run on Bats's technology. That's music to the ears of Chris Isaacson, global chief information officer at Bats and now CIO for the combined entity. "I've been very blessed to have been part of the team that started Bats," the 38-year-old says. "Now I get to see us move on to the next phase with CBOE acquiring us and migrating to the Bats platform."
The sleek, world-class exchange platform of Bats, which was launched in Lenexa, Kansas, in 2005 by a 13-person team spun out of high frequency trading shop Tradebot Systems, is a far cry from the man-powered markets where Isaacson's father, a pig and grain farmer, traded futures to hedge against changes in livestock prices. The younger Isaacson first learned to code at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln and graduated in 2001 with a bachelor's in information systems. The Loomis, Nebraska, native received an MBA in computer science and management in 2003 from the University of NebraskaLincoln, where he learned skills for managing large-scale software projects.
He says his team is "laser-focused" on his biggest project yet: moving CBOE onto Bats systems. Rebounding from its failure to complete an initial public offering in 2012, Bats had a strong 2016 that included a successful IPO in April at the high end of its price range. "It's always a momentous day for a company when it goes public, but it's not every day a company goes public on its own exchange," Isaacson says. Recalling the roots of Bats, he adds, "We understood what the most demanding of our trading members would require because we were one of them. So we developed a platform that could satisfy the most demanding. That ethos has been driving the firm until today with the merger, and going forward I think it will remain essential to our success."
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