Opening Cross: Want a Data Oscar? Pick Your ‘Plus-Ones’ Wisely

Max Bowie, Inside Market Data

Once last week’s Oscars were over, I set about whittling down the shortlists for our very own annual Inside Market Data and Inside Reference Data Awards. And reading through the past year’s stories all in one go, I realized that there was more collaboration and rapport between players in the data industry over the past year than between Oscars hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

This trend isn’t new: Data providers have cooperated for years when it suits them—Telerate and Cantor Fitzgerald both scored big goals with their seminal data distribution deal, while countless vendors have recognized the value of partnering with specialists to provide content or functionality in areas where they have less expertise, to deliver a more rounded overall product set that reduces the need for clients to go elsewhere. This is, if you will, The Social Network that has evolved between different parties over the years, blending competition and cooperation.

But it isn’t slowing, either, and is perhaps even becoming more common. Just take a look at the partnerships announced in the last week alone. Equiduct, which you can read more about in this week’s lead story, renewed a deal to source pan-European data from low-latency vendor Fixnetix for best execution and calculating its VBBO feed, and also enlisted datacenter provider Interxion to host its matching engines. Meanwhile, Swiss research and investment services provider ProFinance announced a “partnership” with SIX Telekurs to leverage its data in ProFinance’s Bond Solutions product.

This kind of content relationship is one that can benefit both parties—assuming they don’t directly compete with each other. And sometimes companies are willing to collaborate even when they do compete, such as the alliance announced last week between Thomson Reuters and interdealer broker Icap—operators of major rival FX pools of liquidity—to generate benchmark spot FX fixings for six major currency pairs based on rates from both pools. Also last week, Thomson Reuters partnered with market surveillance software vendor Redkite Financial Markets to offer hosted trade surveillance capabilities as part of the vendor’s Elektron infrastructure.

And while ultimately, many of these “partnerships” are ordinary client-supplier deals with a little extra hype from both parties—some of which eventually take a nosedive much less graceful than a Black Swan—the spirit of acting as partners can go a long way towards generating goodwill from end-user clients who want to see an attitude from their suppliers that is both entrepreneurial and collaborative.

But then again, some people will cut off their arm in much less than 127 Hours in return for a quality product, regardless of whether management sees the vendor as a “partner”. It’s this devotion from end-users to a product that meets all their needs that has led to Bloomberg scooping the overall best data vendor prize at our awards every year since their Inception in 2003. This year, will someone else—perhaps Thomson Reuters with revamped technology, Interactive Data with financial backing from new owners Warburg Pincus and Silver Lake, or the newly-formed McGraw-Hill Financial with former Bloomberg and Thomson Financial senior executive Lou Eccleston at the helm—prove to be The Fighter with the True Grit required to wrest the crown from Bloomberg?

It’ll soon be time to cast your votes in our awards again. This year, there will be another category for you to choose a winner—but this time, the answer is up to you: Last year, Inside Market Data inducted the 25 inaugural industry figures into our hall of fame, reflecting the 25 years IMD has been publishing. This year, we ask for your nominations for the 26th individual to grace the hallowed halls of market data royalty and deliver their own King’s Speech.

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