OpenGamma raises $6M to kill old-school trading software

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OpenGamma, a provider of analytics software for the financial services industry, announced today that it has raised $6 million in its second round of funding — even though it doesn’t have a product quite yet.

Traders can basically use OpenGamma to work with a suped-up version of Excel. The application programming interface (API) uses Excel and taps into multiple on-premise machines to quickly do calculations and access data without slowing down the machine a trader is working on. Instead of relying on the power of individual machines, OpenGamma will tap more powerful servers that are deployed in-house to provide some better computing firepower. That will allow traders to work their magic on Excel sheets that have thousands of cells active at a given time.

OpenGamma is also designed to be open source, said Kirk Wylie, the company’s founder and CEO. It’s not really clear how, as it doesn’t really have some of the traditional hallmarks of open source software. There isn’t any kind of community developing plug-ins or applications for OpenGamma’s software. But any company that decides to deploy the software can modify it in any way they see fit, and OpenGamma will provide them the tools to do so.

There’s also the question of just who will deploy this software. Many hedge funds and banks are running older versions of trading software — but that’s because they are reliable and it’s a very slow-moving field. Wylie said the companies were excited about getting access to some new tech that would speed up the process.

“You can’t rely on black boxes when dealing with trades, you have to understand everything that is going on in those black boxes,” Wylie said. “What OpenGamma does is run its code in a crystal box where traders can see every single step, so there’s no uncertainty or risk because of technical issues.”

This is OpenGamma’s second round of funding, even though the company hasn’t released a product just yet. The initial version of the software should come out sometime at the end of the first quarter or the beginning of the second quarter this year, Wylie said. The company’s CEO has plenty of experience on both ends — he worked with a number of silicon valley startups that secured venture financing and then moved to London to work in the financial services industry. The rest of the team rounding out OpenGamma also has similar experience.

But given the inertia of the financial services industry, it’s hard to imagine that a lot of companies would begin deploying the software in the immediate future — especially an initial release. Wylie said the company has been in contact with tier 1 banks, some of the largest banks in the world, to begin deploying the software bit by bit rather than swapping it out immediately for a brand new system.

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