Yuri Milner’s Wishful Thinking? Facebook, Google and Wikipedia Will Stay Dominant For Only 10 Years

Posted on March 10, 2013. Filed under: Companies, Economy, Private Equity, Technology, Venture Capital | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yuri Milner, co-founder and chief executive officer of DST

Yuri Milner, co-founder and chief executive officer of DST (Photo: Forbes)

In an interview at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, Yuri Milner, the Russian investor whose early bet on Mark Zuckerberg’s firm made him a billionaire, said companies like Facebook, Google and Wikipedia will still exist a century from now because their services gain momentum the more people use them. “All three have amazing network effects,” said Milner, the co-founder and chief executive officer of DST. “Chances are that those are long survivors.”

Milner has long believed that the internet would develop into a “global brain”, which is often described as an intelligent network of individuals and machines, functioning as a nervous system for the planet Earth. He also has envisaged that the advent of the Internet of things and ever increasing use of social media and participatory systems such as Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia would increase our collective intelligence.

Richard Foster, the Creative Destruction author referred by Forbes as The Wizard of Innovation and speaker at China Leaders Forum, was in the 80s in a search for “the excellent company”, the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-wise company that made all the right moves in advance, and that made more money for its shareholders than any of its competitors. This was the permanent outperformer stock, the really good deal, he said. Foster looked at 4,000 companies over 40 years; he concluded there was no such company, and there never had been such a company! No company had been able to outperform the market for any substantial length of time. (GE once came as close as any, but didn’t do any better than the overall market index, Foster reflects). Somehow the market, managed by nobody in particular, was performing better than all the brains on the planet.

Why is it that no company can outperform the markets for a long time? Foster thinks there are several reasons, but the most important is something called legacy cost. All companies have legacy costs, which are created the moment a company makes a commitment of time or resources to a particular course of action. And when a company is challenged to do something new, to take a new course of action, it has a hard time abandoning its legacy costs. Companies argue that the incremental cost of making a slight improvement to an existing product or service is much better than the full cost of developing something new from scratch. In doing so, the company attempts to optimize between the old and the new. This takes the decision making power away from the customer, and it’s a bad direction to go in. Markets, however, just charge on ahead with the new, because new entrants don’t have any legacy costs to deal with.

Just last week, Facebook’s new News Feed made some welcome cosmetic changes. But it didn’t go very far in addressing the social network’s deeper issues. Fortune’s Kevin Kelleher talks about the vulnerabilities Facebook is facing since it went public. Facebook is facing more powerful competitors and two important yet sometimes contradictory mandates, to create a service that will engage its users, and to make money that will satisfy investors; Facebook’s presentation played down those facts. How intrusive these ads strike users will depends on the algorithms Facebook designs to insert them in feeds.

So while Facebook’s new news feed makes some cosmetic fixes that users are likely to welcome in time, they don’t go very far in addressing rising competition from newer social networks and the uneasy balancing act between users and advertisers. Those are the legacy costs Foster refers too, which new entrants that will grow into becoming new leaders never face. Legacy costs never stopped Wikipedia and Google from dethroning leading institutions called Britannic Encyclopedia and Yahoo!

To think that new companies will take a century to remove Facebook, Wikipedia or Google from their leadership positions is no more than wishful thinking; these firms have at most 10 years to milk their cows and make the big decision: change or die. While Milner appears not to have a vested interest in Wikipedia or Google, he might as well start cashing in on his already wildly profitable Facebook bet. Somebody in some garage is already building a better mousetrap.

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Trying to Blame High-frequency Trading for Facebook’s Nasdaq IPO Eclipse? Look Elsewhere

Posted on May 21, 2012. Filed under: Economy, Exchanges, Regulations, Securities and Exchange Commission, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012, How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FXBob Greifeld, Nasdaq OMX’s Chief Executive Officer, has said on Sunday that the 20-minute delay in trading of Facebook’s $16bn offering last Friday had been caused by a millisecond systems blip due to the largest IPO auction “in the history of mankind”. The exchange had found itself in the spotlight after Facebook failed to deliver a first-day “pop” to investors, instead almost falling below its issuing price of $38. The shares, having risen briefly, quickly fell away to close the day with a gain of just 0.6%, at $38.23.

The fact that the glitch is just coming just weeks after BATS Global Markets, a firm that catered mainly to speed traders, was forced to withdraw its IPO after technical problems, nicely plays into the hands of critics who blame high-frequency trading for all types of financial and economic malaise.

For instance, Giuseppe Vegas, Chairman of Consob, Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa, Italy, suggested last week that high-frequency trading may pose systemic threats to markets and warrant bans. “Legislators and authorities need to ask themselves if certain types of innovation are good or bad for savers,” Vegas said in a speech at the Italian securities market regulator’s annual meeting in Milan today. Legislators shouldn’t hold back from “simply banning the spreading of dangerous practices and products,” he said.

“Financial innovation can be positive but legislators and authorities must avoid that it becomes a mechanism that wipes out families’ savings,” he said. That begs the question of the real possibility of high-frequency trading having any impact on families’ savings.

Nasdaq has now laid out the details of the glitch. In spite of testing 1bn in trading volumes under 100 scenarios, the exchange was caught by surprise when cancellations of trades kept interrupting the computer system’s attempt to complete the auction and produce an initial price for Facebook’s opening. Nasdaq says it designed its “IPO cross”, the process of calculating the opening price, in such a way that would allow continuous trading through an auction at the behest of its customers and has used the system in previous IPOs.

But in processing the huge volume of Facebook trades, it added two milliseconds to the time it took to produce an opening price. In those extra two milliseconds, orders to cancel the trades kept interrupting the auction process. That doesn’t seem to touch high-frequency trading at all, as shares were not even changing hands yet. As a result of the glitch the exchange decided to print the opening trade manually but was then forced to delay the process of confirming individual trades.

Systems blips and glitches will always happen as humans cannot possibly test all scenarios technical implementations will face. People can take advantage of financial innovation in a number of ways and it’s the role of regulators to make sure these ways are within the existing legal framework. Financial innovation travels fast and now becomes not a challenge for single regulatory bodies but for all of them to coordinate the best way to approach regulation and keep markets transparent and fair for all participants worldwide.

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Edgar Perez, The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo, Quoted by CNBC on Can ‘Trading on Tweets’ Really Make Money?

Posted on January 24, 2012. Filed under: Exchanges, Flash Crash, Practitioners, Strategies, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and presenter at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Edgar Perez, Adjunct Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University and presenter at The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo: How High Frequency Traders Leverage Profitable Strategies to Find Alpha in Equities, Options, Futures and FX, February 8th, BM&FBovespa, was quoted by CNBC.com on the note “Can ‘Trading on Tweets’ Really Make Money?“.

CNBC’s Antonya Allen pointed out that social media websites like Twitter and Facebook have become increasingly important to high frequency traders looking to anticipate market moves before they happen; however, she asked, could they eventually become as significant as traditional business news providers in the world of high speed trading?

Edgar Perez, author of The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That Is Transforming the Investing World, said he has not come across a trader who had made money from information supplied on social networking sites. In his book, Edgar Perez follows six high speed traders and examines how ultra fast trading could develop in the future.

“I would be very interested in seeing cases where people actually made money using information from Twitter. Remember there’s a lag there of time and with high frequency trading you want to make sure you connect directly and don’t have any third party providers for information,” Perez explained.

Mr. Perez is widely regarded as the preeminent speaker and networker in the specialized area of high-frequency trading. He has been featured on CNBC Cash Flow (with Oriel Morrison), CNBC Squawk Box (with Geoff Cutmore), BNN Business Day (with Kim Parlee), TheStreet.com (with Gregg Greenberg), Channel NewsAsia Asia Business Tonight and Cents & Sensibilities (with Lin Xue Ling), NHK World, iMoney Hong Kong, Hedge Fund Brief, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, TODAY Online, Oriental Daily News and Business Times. He has been engaged as speaker at Harvard Business School’s 17th Annual Venture Capital & Private Equity Conference, High-Frequency Trading Leaders Forum 2011 (New York, Chicago, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Singapore), CFA Singapore, Hong Kong Securities Institute, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University (New York), Global Growth Markets Forum (London), Technical Analysis Society (Singapore), TradeTech Asia (Singapore), FIXGlobal Face2Face (Seoul), and 2nd Private Equity Convention Russia, CIS & Eurasia (London), among other global forums.

The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo will reveal how high-frequency trading players are succeeding in the global markets and driving the development of algorithmic trading at breakneck speeds from the U.S. and Europe to India, Singapore and Brazil. The Speed Traders Workshop 2012 Sao Paulo kicks off a series of presentations in the world’s most important financial centers: Dubai, January 25; Seoul, South Korea, March 28; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 11; Warsaw, Poland, May 11; Kiev, Ukraine, May 18; Singapore, May 26; Shanghai, China, June 6; Jakarta, Indonesia, June 13; Mexico City, Mexico, July 27; Hong Kong, August 4, and Moscow, Russia, August 10.

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Market Expert Speak: High-Frequency Trading Should be Regulated, Not Stopped

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Exchanges, Financial Crisis, Flash Crash, Practitioners | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Speed Traders Workshop 2011: The Present and Future of High-Frequency Trading

The Speed Traders Workshop 2011

High-frequency trading should continue to be regulated and not stopped, indicated Edgar Perez, The Speed Traders Workshop 2011: The Present and Future of High-Frequency Trading (http://www.thespeedtradersworkshop.com), on an interview with Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily News, for its column Market Expert Speak (http://orientaldaily.on.cc/cnt/finance/20110830/00275_001.html). Perez, author of The Speed Traders, An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World (http://www.thespeedtraders.com), noted that high-frequency trading in particular is a development that was born out of the evolution of the regulatory environment, certainly facilitated by technology; therefore, it would be against its roots to oppose regulation per se.

As Ben van Vliet, Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, says in The Speed Traders, “We all want to race fast but safe. It doesn’t do any good if someone crashes into the innocent crowd and kills people. There are external people that may be affected when things crash. What we want the government to do is to create a safe track for us to race fast.” Perez noted that regulators in the U.S. have adopted circuit breakers in May 2010 for 404 NYSE listed S&P 500 stocks and widened in September for Russell 1000 stocks to halt or slow down trades of a particular stock if the price moves 10% or more in a five-minute period; lately, they have proposed limit up, limit down rules, which would require that trades in all listed stocks be executed within a range tied to the recent prices for that security and impose a five-minute pause if trading is unable to occur within the price band for more than 15 seconds; those are measures that fall into the category of improvements to the race tracks for high-frequency trading. Additionally, they are implementing a consolidated audit trail that would help the SEC track information about trading orders so it can better understand the fast-paced markets. Ultimately, a flexible regulatory environment that can incorporate input from participants will be the optimal setting for the development of the industry.

Market Expert Speak: High-Frequency Trading Should be Regulated, Not Stopped

High-Frequency Trading Should be Regulated, Not Stopped

The Speed Traders Workshop 2011, led by Edgar Perez, will reveal how high-frequency trading players are succeeding in the global markets and driving the development of algorithmic trading at breakneck speeds from the U.S. and Europe to India, Singapore and Brazil. Highlights of The Speed Traders Workshop 2011 include:

  • The first and most comprehensive initiation to the world of high-frequency trading
  • Study materials provided by Edgar Perez, the author of the latest book on the subject of speed trading, and a well-known presenter in America, Europe and Asia
  • Latest update on high-frequency trading in the world and current regulatory initiatives
  • Techniques to detect high-frequency trading in the markets
  • Key enablers of high-frequency trading in the U.S., Europe and Asia
  • Proposed regulatory initiatives after the “flash crash”
  • Up-to-date review of the future of high-frequency trading

The Speed Traders, published by McGraw-Hill Inc., is the most comprehensive, revealing work available on the most important development in trading in generations. High-frequency trading will no doubt play an ever larger role as computer technology advances and the global exchanges embrace fast electronic access. The Speed Traders explains everything there is to know about how today’s high-frequency traders make millions—one cent at a time. In this new title, The Speed Traders, Mr. Perez opens the door to the secretive world of high-frequency trading. Inside, prominent figures drop their guard and speak with unprecedented candidness about their trade. For more about The Speed Traders, readers can visit its Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as the most popular online retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders, among others.

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