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The rise and rise of Archipelago


Jerry Putnam

Five years ago Archipelago was just another technology platform. Two years ago it was one of several upstart rivals to Nasdaq market makers, and possibly even to the New York Stock Exchange.

Those were the heady days when technology and the internet were supposed to be sounding the death knell for traditional businesses, and new technology-based companies were springing up all over the place.

It didn't last. Several would-be liquidity providers for US equities trading have disappeared, such as Optimark, which closed in late summer 2000. Attempts to use technology to change the way primary equity markets work flopped as well. WR Hambrecht's auction-based system has done the odd deal, but nothing spectacular. Epoch Partners was closed down last summer and its syndication technology sold to Goldman Sachs. Wit Soundview abandoned its retail strategy and dumped the word "Wit" from its title, returning to the strategy, name and Connecticut location of the technology research and trading firm it bought at the end of 1999.

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