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A Portrait of the Artist

Traders Magazine, April 2005

John A. Byrne

The oil portrait hanging in the entrance of Nasdaq's MarketSite building catches the eye. Frank Zarb, the former Ford Administration energy czar looks down, a tad shrewdly, at visitors who dare today enter this Times Square landmark. The supersized portrait is really a personal statement from Zarb, a powerful man who we all know better as the former chairman and CEO of Nasdaq. It was his vision that led to the MarketSite, a vision that attracted early criticism, but then later drew praise. The return on this crap shoot investment was incalculable. Zarb was essentially recruited by the former SEC chairman, Arthur Levitt, to complete his agency's reforms of the dealer market. Zarb, while obediently fulfilling the mandate, took Nasdaq on a spending spree at home and abroad. Who could blame the man? Nasdaq was expanding giddily. As far as Zarb could tell, it was a classic case of grow or die. But the party was over after the bubble burst. Zarb was replaced by Hardwick Simmons, the former Prudential CEO. Wick's tenure, to say the least, was controversial. A restive board - and an influential group of investors led by Warren Hellman - had enough of the nonsense. It recruited a new CEO, an executive who had a stellar record in operations and the minutiae of trading. This man, Robert Greifeld, is still shaking up Nasdaq some two years later.

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