Lou Kerner, a social-media analyst at Liquidnet Holdings Inc., left the firm yesterday, three months after he was hired to lead a project focused on trading shares of closely held companies.
Kerner and the company didn’t share the same views on the “standing of the group,” he said in a phone interview. Still, Kerner said that he left on good terms and that Michael Silverstein, his partner in the group, is staying. Liquidnet, which operates trading platforms for mutual funds and asset managers, confirmed Kerner’s departure and said it remains committed to building the private-shares group.
“While a difficult decision, we concluded that he was not a cultural fit for Liquidnet,” Melissa Kanter, a spokeswoman at the New York-based company, said in an e-mail.
Kerner and Silverstein face a lawsuit from their former employer, Wedbush Securities Inc., accusing them of taking customer lists, documents and disclosures from the firm. Wedbush filed the suit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Oct. 20, three days after Liquidnet announced the hiring of the two men.
Liquidnet responded the following week, saying the suit should be dismissed or delayed because Wedbush failed to file a corresponding demand with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, required in disputes between registered members. Kerner and Kanter both said the lawsuit is unrelated to his departure.
Kerner worked at Wedbush from the middle of 2010 until he joined Liquidnet last year. In both jobs, he provided research, trading and banking services to private companies in the social- media and mobile-technology markets.
The move marks the latest high-profile departure for Liquidnet. Alfred Eskandar, head of U.S. equities, left the firm in December. It also has lost Anthony Barchetto, head of corporate strategy; Kevin Lupowitz, global head of technology; and Jay Biancamano, global head of marketplace and corporate strategy, over the past year.
As of the end of 2010, Liquidnet had 637 institutions using its platform, with an average of $20 billion in assets under management, and the company offered trading in 39 markets worldwide, according to its website.
The case is Wedbush Securities Inc. v. Liquidnet Inc., 652875/2011, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).