Lessons of Bondcube

Lessons of Bondcube
We have been following the development of Bondcube since early 2013 after its foundation in 2012. Founded by CEO Paul Reynolds and CTO Mark Germain, Bondcube had a unique vision to support trader workflow in fixed income to support greater liquidity in the market. While many FinTech start-ups focus on B2C and the client experience, Bondcube was squarely focused on B2B and workflow support for traders. While Bondcube leveraged new Web 2.0 capabilities such as chat and tracking, it was essentially a new tool for an existing audience with the vision created from former industry insiders trying to create something new. The central idea was that Bondcube could revive large order execution, minimize the market impact of search, and be disruptive to existing marketplaces like MarketAxess, Bloomberg and Tradeweb. It planned to optimize trading via chat and by leveraging historical inquiries. We understand it was marketed at zero cost to buyside and (relatively) cheap connectivity for dealers. Bondcube decided to focus on both the Europe and the US, like existing competitors. An investment by Deutsche Boerse AG suggested that Bondcube might have some legs to build traction, but today’s news on liquidation suggests that further funding was needed and the shareholders declined to do so. Brad Bailey is compiling an updated report on the platforms in the market today, but this is clearly a sign that the market is still sorting through the various ideas and that incumbency (and inertia?) still has great value. Also, sometimes the market asks for change but then does not actually adopt the change it’s clamoring for. All too often the buy side says “Yes! Yes!” but does not adopt new options rapidly, but only after long trials and testing. Capital (and patience) can disappear before the testing and optimization process is complete.

Thoughts from IBM’s “World of Watson”

Thoughts from IBM’s “World of Watson”
Last week was at the IBM’s World of Watson in NYC – IBM has opened up Watson through the Cloud forming an eco-system where application developers and partners utilizing open APIs can tap into Watson’s cognitive thinking algorithms.  IBM has decided to open the Watson platform to partners and developers for more rapid discoveries of real-applications and perhaps marketable applications. Of course many of the impressive applications targeted health care, mapping genomes, cancer research, synthetic drug pre-trials – some amazing stuff. In the area of finance I’m always a touch skeptical, investors have been trying to find the golden algorithms investment portfolios for centuries and not really convinced that Watson will do much better. However I was very impressed with some Private Equity software firm, Vantage Software in Boston, that was using Watson coupled with an accelerator big data analytics module application, AlchemyAPI out of Denver, to comb through social media for smoke signals about firms that were being tracked. For example a small firm is looking for 3 new analytical PhDs in polymer catalysts – a small signal that something might be popping with the young company. If an analyst is tracking say 250-500 start-ups, no way to track this manually. Of course stay tuned for Watson to show-up more in Wealth Management. Here’s some links to the main tent sessions: