After a lot of wrangling with the SEC, IEX was finally approved to become a full-fledged exchange. The startup, whose founder was made famous by his depiction in Flash Boys, hopes to even the playing field somewhat by instituting a 350-microsecond speed bump in the orders it’s routed.
Supporters of the upstart exchange welcome its fresh, democratic approach towards a market that’s essentially become a badly designed computer network: “It’s as if Comcast, Time Warner, and Charter were competing to send you Game of Thrones, every time you turned on your TV,” wrote Christopher Groskopf in Quartz.
Detractors say the approval of a new exchange just adds fragmentation to a market that already has 12 exchanges and dozens of private trading venues.
“By slowing down their outgoing market data, it becomes very difficult to determine who has the best price, and where to send that order to,” Larry Tabb, CEO of an influential market research firm, told The Verge.
Using the stock exchange to end short-termism
IEX isn’t the only new stock exchange — Silicon Valley isn’t done quite yet targeting exchanges. There’s a plan afoot (and real investors) to create the Long Term Stock Exchange (LTSE), an attempt to cure the incessant cycle of short term focus for both reporting companies and their investors. The move is being lead by Eric Ries, the author of Lean Startup, who believes it would also reinvigorate the IPO window for top startups currently choosing to stay private.
The startup is in early discussions with the SEC but the intention is that, in addition to general regulatory requirements, the body would also enforce a new set of incentives, including tenured shareholder voting power and tying executive pay to long-term business performance.
“You’re advertising to the markets that you’re willing to be held to a higher standard,” Ries told Bloomberg. “This is the gold standard, the most long-term, the most hardcore version of going public.”