Exegy and Hyperfeed merge to form Exegy, Inc. in St. Louis

Finding financial data orders of magnitude faster

Exegy, Inc., a St. Louis company formed to commercialize the hardware and software technology developed at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering and Applied Science, and Hyperfeed Technologies, Inc., a Chicago company specializing in the financial market data space, will merge and St. Louis will remain its home.

Exegy, originally Data Search Systems Inc., was incorporated in April of 2003, and built upon the research of Ronald Indeck, Ph.D., the Das Family Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering, Ron Cytron, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Mark Franklin, Ph.D., the Hugo F. & Ina Champ Urbauer Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Roger Chamberlain, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. The team developed and patented a means to process massive amounts of data orders of magnitude faster than conventional methods.

Exegy approached Hyperfeed with a proposal to accelerate Hyperfeed's software applications with the Exegy hardware technology. These early discussions led to a plan to merge the two companies. HyperFeed provides services and financial market information to financial institutions, exchanges, hedge funds, value-added distributors, and trading professionals. By combining, the new organization provides products that offer the market a leading combination of high data throughput, low latency (or unnoticed response time) and functionality. The financial markets represent the second marketing vertical for Exegy. Exegy introduced TextMiner to the government intelligence market in early 2006 to provide a platform for the search and analysis of very large datasets. This market shares the need for high throughput, low latency and high functionality with the financial markets and the Exegy technology is particularly well suited for these applications.

A highly experienced management team will lead the new company. James V. O'Donnell, CEO of Exegy, will become Chairman of the new company. Paul Pluschkell, CEO of HyperFeed, will become CEO of the merged company.

"By combining our businesses, we are able to provide our customers with tools to make quicker business decisions," said O'Donnell. "This will give our customers a critical competitive advantage."

"This is a powerful combination for our current and future customers," said Pluschkell. "They can continue to benefit from our product's high functionality but now, operating through Exegy's new compute platform, they can leverage that functionality at speeds never before possible."

HyperFeed and Exegy will combine both experience and innovation. With more than 25 years in the financial market space, HyperFeed's experience enables firms to gain direct access to a wide range of market data, data distribution and benchmarking tools.

Exegy offers technological innovation with a reconfigurable hardware platform that processes exchange and market feed data at the hardware level taking the burden off the software and central processor. The merged company enables a combination of technologies that accelerate both analysis and data throughout.

On June 20, 2006 Exegy announced its first product to come from the merger, Excelerate TP, the first high performance ticker plant -- a new compute platform that accesses and processes market data very rapidly -- with a sustained throughput of more than 1,000,000 exchange messages per second at less than 150 microseconds of latency in a single 3U appliance about the size of a desktop computer, resulting in a faster trading cycle which can give traders a key competitive advantage.

According to Bradley Castanho, Ph.D., interim director of the Washington University Office of Technology Management, the merger is a "natural marriage." "The Washington University technology will enable staff in the financial operations arena to find 'needles in a haystack,'" he said. "It is those needles that give investment decision-makers a competitive edge. The Exegy tool enables searchers to sift through incomprehensively large amounts of unstructured data to identify desired patterns."

The crux of the technology is reconfigurable hardware, which makes use of existing computing components and Indeck's area of specialization, magnetic information storage systems, and puts them to work in novel ways. Cytron and Franklin have brought engineering and software skills to make the concept viable, and Chamberlain, joining the group in 2001, has brought systems engineering to help productize the developments.

Announcing the new product from the merged company is the culmination of an intensive technology transfer effort, which began to coalesce in April 2000 in the Sever Hall office of Ed Fickenscher, Business Development Director in the Washington University Office of Technology Management. Fickenscher had the first patent application filed in July of that year – there are now ten, three owned jointly by the company and the University.

Fickenscher did an exhaustive evaluation of the potential market for the product and found that it could sell in large markets across multiple industries and multiple applications spanning genomic searching to database management. Fickenscher contacted several companies whose interest in the then-unproven technology was lukewarm.

During 2002 and 2003, with funding from the Bear Cub Fund (an internal Washington University development fund approved by Chancellor Wrighton) the invention was refined and improved to the point where a laboratory prototype could be shown to potential investors. The technology at that point was clearly a "disruptive" technology – meaning it was not an incremental improvement over existing methods, but was a revolutionary new approach providing hundreds or thousands of times improvement in performance. In addition, there were strong and broad patent applications, a technical team second to none, and the allure of the lucrative and diverse market opportunities. What was needed was a strong management team that could attract the needed capital and develop the technology to the point where market penetration could begin.

Fickenscher decided that the best way to commercialize the technology was through a startup company that would attract the capital needed to develop the technology. A strong, knowledgeable management team for what became Exegy was put together featuring James V. O'Donnell (BSBA & MBA '74) of St. Louis as Chairman and J.J. Stupp (GB '83) as Chief Financial Officer.

In December 2003 the license agreement was signed, enabling the commercialization of the Washington University technology by Data Search Systems, Inc. which changed its name to Exegy, Inc. in early 2005.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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