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Witless in Manhattan

It was a rare sight. He got onto the downtown F train at 23rd street, the edge of New York's silicon alley, a more sombre place now than it was 12 months ago.

With his jeans, top-of-the-range sneakers and portable CD player, he was just another dress-down commuter. But he was also wearing a blue t-shirt with the word Vostock on it.

That's the name for the internet-based equity secondary issuance platform devised by Wit Soundview, and launched in May last year. Euromoney was at the launch party. It was a jovial affair, celebrating not just the launch of Vostock, but also the alliance announced the day before with E*Trade. Co-CEO Ron Readmond hosted the party on the rooftop of a building in a part of Manhattan called Hell's Kitchen.

It proved to be an apt location. A little over a year later much has changed. Readmond and his co-CEO Bob Lessin stepped down within nine months of each other to make way for former president and designer of Vostock Mark Loehr. Vostock has yet to be used, the firm has yet to lead manage an IPO, profits have dropped, and its share price is below $2 (way off its double-digit highs).

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