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CEO CHAT: Don Ross, PDQ Enterprises

Traders Magazine Online News, October 24, 2018

John D'Antona Jr.

Traders Magazine recently caught up withDon Ross, CEO of PDQ Enterprises LLC, the parent company of CODA Markets Inc. Ross is an experienced thought leader in equities market structure and electronic trading, with a strong managerial background in the development and use of innovative trading strategies and software. He holds a B.S. from Northwestern University where he studied Learning and Organizational Change, and today applies modern management theory to optimize the productivity of the creative people around him.

In the interview that follows, Ross shared with Traders Magazine Editor John D’Antona Jr. his pedigree, how he came to run an ATS, how it operates and what the future holds in off board trading.


TRADERS MAGAZINE: How did you get started in the business? What drew you to trading?

Don Ross: Initially, it was through my father, who spent his whole career in the industry. I loved the excitement of markets. I was also fascinated by money—not just making it but, particularly after studying economics in college, how capital formation worked and how nations prospered.

In high school, I was fortunate to get an internship at GETCO, which would later become one of the world’s premier electronic trading firms. I loved the place. I actually deferred my admission to Northwestern to trade full-time with them. I cut the hours while I worked on my degree, but went right back to twelve-hour days after graduation.

At GETCO, I got a great education in the importance of technology and innovation in creating competitive advantage, and that’s stuck with me. I also became a market-structure fanatic, and started making notes of where I thought technology, rivalry, and regulation were pushing things. I knew the speed arms race had a ways to run, but it was apparent that it was going to become a decreasing-returns game. I wanted to be part of the next big thing.

TM: What prompted you to jump to CODA?

Ross: If it hadn’t existed already, I would have wanted to create it—or something just like it. CODA’s on-demand auctions made perfect sense to me. With enough computing power, you could have instantaneous price discovery and multilateral executions, but without the gaming, resource-wastage, and information-leakage of continuous markets. Once you eliminate the need for bilateral executions, based on time priority, you arrive at the Holy Grail of economic exchange—the so-called Walrasian auctioneer. This is how perfect, frictionless markets were supposed to work in theory. And thanks to technology, I could now help make them work that way in reality.

TM: Tell us about CODA’s philosophy.

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