"Business is just a set of problems to solve," Seth Merrin writes in The Power of Positive Destruction, a combination personal memoir and entrepreneurial how-to manual published in December. "It's really the book of Liquidnet," that is, the company he founded and went live with in 2001 with a trading platform for institutions whose large stock orders had become too difficult to transact on traditional exchanges. A lot of sweat went into growing the network from 38 buy-side firms at the start to more than 850 today, trading in 44 markets around the globe. That's not to mention the bumps along Merrin's career path and in multiple startups, including Merrin Financial, which pioneered the buy-side trade order management system. "I made tons of mistakes," he admits, now hoping others can learn from his experiences. As the title of the book, co-written with Carlye Adler, suggests, the Liquidnet Holdings CEO, 57, remains every bit the entrepreneur scoping out opportunities for disruption. "We are in institutional fintech," he says, noting that about a third of Liquidnet's 400-plus employees are technologists. "That is our core competency," he adds. In the book he urges that technology be embraced as a competitive advantage, but adds: "Understand that with the pace of technological change, the disrupter can easily become the disrupted. Positive destruction must be constant."
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