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August 31, 2000

Where's TCAM?

By Peter Chapman

In the beginning there was TCAM. The order management system vendor predates BRASS by some 10 years and was the first to sell a trading system. But it has almost vanished from the scene, according to traders. Not true, says Greg Johnston, general manager of OM Technology's securities systems division, formerly TCAM. "We have 22 customers who rely on our market making system," he said. "We still feel it's a credible competitor to BRASS."

Nevertheless, since buying TCAM in February 1999, OM has delayed the integration of a market making module into its flagship OneWorld Service Bureau used by brokerages to manage their orders. TCAM's Traid-Gold market making software is used by firms like Peters Securities, Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder, and International Assets Advisory Corporation, but is not being aggressively marketed. Johnston says Traid-Gold is being revamped and will become part of the OWSB sometime in the next four to eight months.

OM has had the luxury of sitting out the trading systems wars over the last two years because it found success selling retail order management systems. It rode the Internet trading revolution begun in 1996, selling routing technology to brokers like NDB and Edward Jones.

Retail proved a blessing for TCAM. Its institutional efforts hit a brick wall when parent Stratus, a computer-maker, forbade it to re-code its software to work with non-Stratus equipment. It got so bad, TCAM founders Bijan Monassebian, Martin and Jeff Hakker even sued Stratus over the matter in late 1995.

The break with its legacy code began a year before that when TCAM introduced its service bureau. Then, in 1995, it discontinued support for OMSs previously sold under license to such large trading houses as Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, Lehman Brothers, Bears Stearns and 12 others, according to Johnston. The firms bought the code and took on the maintenance themselves.