By Rebecca Baird-Remba | Commercial Observer
When Brad Katsuyama and Ronan Ryan founded independent stock exchange firm IEX Group in 2012, they wanted to create a more transparent alternative to the conventional U.S. stock market, which was plagued by high-frequency trading, fraud and private “dark pool” trading forums.
With their partners John Schwall and Rob Park, they set out to build a fairer, more transparent stock exchange. Their new offices at Silverstein Properties’ 3 World Trade Center, designed by Ken Tracey of TPG Architecture, reflect that philosophy of simplicity and transparency.
After walking through the dark, black metal-walled reception area, there’s a glassed-in room full of server racks that handle the office’s data and telecom needs. Since IEX handles much of its trading with data centers in New Jersey and Chicago, the office server room was “purely put there for the aesthetic design,” said Schwall, IEX’s COO. “The point is to show we’re both a finance company and a data company.”
There are several glass-walled conference rooms with black and white walls and standing benches, including one room emblazoned with the backlit message “Build Fairer Markets” and a large interactive screen.
“That room gets used to conduct code reviews and simulations of the exchange,” Schwall explained. “At any given time you’ll see programmers sitting around that screen pointing to lines of code and seeing exactly how it’s operating.”
Of course, it’s not just a tech startup, it’s a stock exchange. Opposite the spacious, open main work area is a black wall with a 30-foot-long, 10-foot-high projected display of the market data. Every morning and evening, someone stands behind the small white pedestal in front of the screen and “rings” a digital bell to open and close the market.
The space also features several large seating areas—one is furnished with a large, square mid-century modern bench, another with a pair of gray, L-shaped sectional couches. The office has plenty of the faux-industrial touches typical of tech offices, including polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings finished with suspended gray mesh panelling. To keep its employees happy, IEX built a gym and a mother’s room.
The firm has been in the World Trade Center essentially since its inception. IEX started out with a 3,000-square-foot office in 7 World Trade Center in 2013, when it was still an “off-exchange marketplace.” Then it moved to a 13,000-square-foot space in 4 World Trade Center in 2016, after the Securities and Exchange Commission greenlighted IEX to operate as an official exchange, alongside the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Eventually, the company outgrew its footprint at 4 WTC, and made do by putting some of its employees in Silverstein’s in-house coworking space, Silver Suites. Last October, IEX moved into 45,000 square feet on the entire 58th floor of 3 World Trade Center.
“Being at the World Trade Center is very important to many of us,” said Schwall. “We feel like we’re in the heart of American capitalism here.”