It’s been just over two years since we officially launched the TT platform here at the annual FIA Conference in Boca Raton. It’s been even longer—approaching five years—since taking our very first steps toward what many outside of TT thought was a crazy idea: that Software-as-a-Service could redefine our industry the way it had so many others.
So when I was asked to give a few brief thoughts on the second year of life of the TT platform and what it’s meant for our company and, more importantly, our clients, I could only think of one analogy that best describes it. That’s right: my two-year-old twin toddlers.
Now that you’ve commenced eye-rolling, hear me out because this is more than just a “proud dad” opportunity to talk about my kids (who are, of course, the most brilliant, athletically and artistically gifted children ever to swing a wiffle ball bat, count to four(ish) or smear paint on their parents’ walls). In many ways, the milestones they’ve achieved in their second year of life mirror the same of the technology platform in which TT has invested so much.
Walk before you run
It was in this last year that my children took their own first steps—a couple of big days in the Lane household, to be sure. And as you might expect with twins, the first one to reach this milestone didn’t have many days in the spotlight; it seems sibling rivalry has its effect even at an early age. But of course it didn’t take long for the twins to become bored with simple walking—many skinned knees and “boo-boo patches” were incurred on their way to the far more exciting world of running. Today, those early, throw-caution-to-the-wind days of locomotive adventure seem like a distant memory to my wife and me; it seems running is the only means of transportation these days, and they both do it with aplomb.
Years before we officially launched the TT platform, we knew with every bone in our body that what we were building would ultimately, eventually redefine the world of professional trading technology, but in many ways we underestimated how much we’d need to wait for the world to catch up to our point of view. You could argue, then, that as a company full of technologists who believed so passionately in what we were doing that we wanted to run before we had sufficient opportunity to nail walking.
So it’s not unexpected, then, that in the TT platform’s infancy, we wanted to do nothing but run: we wanted to democratize access to technology that would consistently keep our users competitive in a relentlessly difficult and evolving industry. We wanted to provide them with a set of tools and capabilities that would continue to evolve right along with them.
But along the way we learned some important lessons, many of which started with the notion that “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” especially now that we were armed with the ability to deliver technology in a way to which neither TT nor the rest of industry was accustomed. And we also had to learn the (now obvious in hindsight) fact that a platform like X_TRADER® wasn’t built in a day, or even a few years. We set a consistently high bar for over 22 years, and if we had any hope of surpassing that bar, we were going to need to do it the old-fashioned way: by earning our partners’ trust. In other words, we needed to make sure we could walk first.
Which is why, as one of many de facto “parents” of the TT platform, the last two years have been so rewarding for me. To see the market validate what we’re doing, not only in spirit but also in customer adoption; to watch as capabilities like FIX-as-a-Service become more than marketing talk and actually empower our market access providers to scale their business in ways they’ve been unable to do until now; and to see the successes many of our long-term users have had in spite of the uncertainty of being early adopters has continued to fuel our belief that in our industry there is a shift in the expectations the trading community should have for their technology partners.
And, like two-year-old toddlers, we seemingly learn something new every day. Though there may be stumbles and skinned knees along the way, we’ve committed ourselves to always being willing to grow and make ourselves better than we were the day before. And, in our case, the one constant that prevents us from becoming complacent is the knowledge that for many in our industry, the world is an uncertain place—it’s our mission to do what we can to help them thrive.