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June 30, 2001

No Stranger to Liquidity

By Peter Chapman

Richard Korhammer spent much of the 1980s underwater -- literally.

The Lava Trading CEO swam for the U.S. swim team from 1986 through 1989. In 1987, his breast stroke won him two gold medals at the Pan American games. He didn't make the 1988 Olympics, but placed third in the pre-Olympic trials.

All puns about pools of liquidity aside, Korhammer first detected the Street's fragmentation angst while working as a consultant. In the 1990s, he spent five years with New York's J.L. Freeman and a year or two with his own MK Partners. He advised investment banks how to run their businesses. More than half the work was trading-related.

"We worked on trading profitability, trading strategies, and trading floor technologies," he said.

Korhammer, 35, was no stranger to trading technology. A stint with Steve Jobs' doomed NeXT Software had him teaching program trading desks how to use object-oriented technologies to build trading systems. The technology made it possible for them to change their algorithms in real-time to respond to market changes.

Korhammer graduated from Princeton in 1989 as did Lava Trading co-founder Kamran Rafieyan.