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#DRWat25: Don

In many ways, 25 years is a long time…a quarter of a century, two and a half decades, half of my lifetime. And in other ways – the pace of change in our industry, watching my children grow up, the expansion of our firm – it feels more like the blink of an eye. Either way, it’s a good point at which to pause and reflect on how far we’ve come since I founded DRW in 1992 while trading in the Eurodollar options pit at the CME.

Back then, we were small in number – there were fewer than 10 traders and clerks (and a single programmer) when we started. It was very much a hands-on operation. I still reported to the pit at 7:20 am each day wearing a red jacket with my initials on the badge and headed home in the evenings to write code and build models on my Macintosh SE.

Not long after that, CME launched Globex, and I signed up to be one of the first liquidity providers in Eurodollar options and futures on the electronic platform. Around the time of the launch, I participated in a trader profile for Futures magazine in which I called Globex “just an extension of what I do in the pit.” It’s interesting to look back on my comments at that time and see that, while technology and market structure have dramatically changed since then, it still holds true that electronic trading is based on the same fundamentals as pit trading. From the perspective of a trader who was in the business of taking risk and putting on positions with positive expected value, the transition to a technology-led industry was less impactful than you might think.

My final days in the pit were in 2005. At that time, the majority of Eurodollar futures were being trading on the screen. We had more than 100 people at DRW, and I began to spend more time looking at the firm’s growth, new business opportunities, and the impact of market structure changes on the firm overall.

One the things that sticks out most as I think back over these 25 years is the incredible people I’ve had an opportunity to work with here at DRW and what they’ve contributed to the firm’s success. We’ve always made it a point to hire the smartest, most tenacious people we could find – but also good people, who want to work with others to solve problems, with diverse personal interests and a natural curiosity. They have been responsible for many of our ideas and initiatives, and have helped make it a really fun ride.

Simply put, we wouldn’t be here at 25 years without all of those people, the ones at the firm now and the many others who have been part of the team.

I was recently asked if I’ll be around for DRW’s 50th anniversary. I’m not much for that type of speculation, but I do know I’m looking forward to what the next 25 years bring.