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December 1, 2002

A Journey to the West

By Peter Chapman

Piper Jaffray isn't the only trading house in Minneapolis to set its sights on San Francisco. In fact, it isn't the only trading house in its building to do so.

ThinkEquity is a brand new brokerage that trades out of the Piper Jaffray Tower in downtown Minneapolis. Founded last year in San Francisco by a group from Merrill Lynch, it is targeting the growth space.

The small firm's progress has not been smooth: a merger with Minneapolis' Craig-Hallum failed and its sole sales trader in San Francisco quit. That said, its head trader is still optimistic. "The mindset here is one of excitement," said Rob McClanahan. "We're building a business."

ThinkEquity is actively seeking sales traders for its San Francisco office and is even considering building a Nasdaq desk there. Most of the trading talent is on either coast, explains McClanahan, and is reluctant to move.