Optiver is a proprietary High Frequency Trading (HFT) firm focusing on electronic market making in exchange-listed financial products. Our activities span major exchanges in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. This blog will focus on the principles and practices of the Technology Group in Optiver’s Chicago office.
Optiver’s business domain is characterized by intense competition among technically sophisticated firms. Not all of those firms operate the same way or at the same scale as Optiver, so the competitive landscape is varied in both its extent and its nature. Regardless, technology plays a critical role in the success of the firm. In this context, competitive advantage derives from:
1. Technical sophistication and reliability of the trading infrastructure; and 2. Operations, by which we mean flawless execution of business activities, daily.
The posts on this blog will expound on the principles which guide the Technology Group’s decision-making. These principles are not to be confused with dogma. They guide rather than dictate thinking. They are not derived from some abstract conception of an idealized technical environment either. Rather, they are the distillation of the current state of knowledge and experience of our technical leaders, having been shaped by lessons learned over years of managing our technology. And they will no doubt continue to evolve accordingly.
We focus on principles because they form a framework within which we reason about the many challenges we face. More importantly, they are the framework from which we venture when particularly difficult or novel problems surface. In other words, our principles are most useful precisely when we violate them, for then we do so knowingly and deliberately. For this very reason, they are best viewed as the working hypotheses that underpin our thinking. Like all hypotheses, they change per the dictates of evidence accrued.
We believe the nature of our work and the principles to which we adhere are often counter-intuitive when set against modern technical culture. Our humble aspiration is that a few engineers find this perspective intriguing, fresh, and challenging. And we encourage those who find it compelling to join our team.
Pierre Salverda, Chief Technical Officer
David Kent, Chief of Staff - Technology
Pierre joined Optiver US ten years ago with a PhD in Computer Science (Microprocessor Design) from UIUC. Prior to pursuing his studies in the USA, he worked at Goldman Sachs and in the Telecoms industry at MCI Worldcom in London. He started his career at Optiver as a Software Engineer and is presently Chief Technology Officer.
David is a Stanford Computer Science alum and spent several years as a developer at Amazon.com. He joined Optiver as a Software Engineering Lead in 2009 and has led many of Optiver’s software development teams. He is presently Chief of Staff for the Optiver US Technology Group.