O'Brien Leaves Stocks to Join Treasury Startup Direct Match

  • O'Brien appointed to executive chairman of the board
  • Former executive spent career at Bats, Direct Edge and Nasdaq

Direct Match, the startup that plans of offer exchange-style trading for U.S. Treasury bonds, said it has appointed William O’Brien as executive chairman of its board of directors.

O’Brien has spent the bulk of his career at U.S. stock exchanges, including as president of Bats Global Markets Inc., the chief executive officer of Direct Edge Holdings LLC and senior vice president at Nasdaq Inc. He will help develop corporate strategy and operations at Direct Match, which will start its Treasury trading service later this year, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

“Bill’s market structure expertise across all asset classes, coupled with his understanding of electronic trading and prior success in leading high-growth companies, make him an ideal chairman for Direct Match,” Jim Greco, the founder and CEO of Direct Match, said in the statement.

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, O’Brien built Direct Edge into one of the biggest U.S. stock exchanges. He left the firm in 2014 after merging it with Bats.

O’Brien, 45, also played a central role in the debate spurred by Michael Lewis’s “Flash Boys,” which blasted Bats and other key players in the stock market. O’Brien appeared on CNBC a day after the best-seller came out to spar with Lewis and IEX Group Inc. CEO Brad Katsuyama, a central character in the book. Their heated debate captivated Wall Street. Later that week, Bats was forced to correct something O’Brien said about the speed of his company’s technology systems.

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