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Michael Lewis’ new book could be bad timing for Panthers’ new owner

Apr 1, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Florida Panthers Opening Night with Vincent J. Viola AP

A new book by Michael Lewis, the author who brought the baseball world Moneyball and the football world The Blind Side, could have an effect on the fortunes of one of hockey’s newest owners.

From the Irish Times:

The release of Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt comes after years of public debate over the lightning-fast trading systems which have grown to dominate a fractured terrain where multiple exchanges and bank-run trading platforms compete for orders.

In the two weeks before publication of Mr Lewis’s book, Goldman Sachs has suddenly thrown its weight behind market reform after years of investment in HFT and has also taken the highly unusual step of telling staff to publicise its support for a competing trading platform.

Some market executives have even discussed with Virtu Financial, an HFT outfit preparing the first IPO of a global proprietary trading firm, postponing its share sale amid heightened scrutiny of its core business. Virtu declined to comment, but its roadshow is expected to kick off next week.

Virtu, if you thought you’d read that name before on PHT, was founded by Vincent Viola, the new owner of the Florida Panthers. Just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal wrote the following about the company’s planned IPO:

High-frequency trading could soon officially mint its first billionaire.

Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, the founder of Virtu Financial Inc., could have his stake valued at around $2 billion once the company sells shares to the public, according to two people familiar with the matter.

We’re quite certain Viola won’t be out on the street if Virtu’s IPO doesn’t go perfectly, but certainly the timing of the book’s release isn’t fantastic.

Related: Panthers owner: ‘We intend on being in the free agent market in a significant way’

  1. sjsharks66 - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    This entire article flew way over my head. Lol

    • imleftcoast - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      There was a 60 minutes story about it on Sunday. Almost no one in the industry understood what was going on. What he would do is see your trade coming and beat you to the market to move ahead of your buy or sell. When your trade got to the market, the price would have already moved on you. The solution has been to send the order to the furthest market, and put in speed bumps for these cheaters.

      • 7mantel - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:56 PM

        NANOSECOND TRADING is what it is called !

      • imleftcoast - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        dp2310 has a better description than mine. Front running the market is what I would call it. The speed was important, but the key was to see trade requests and react to them before they could be executed.

    • patthehockeyfan - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Here’s the link to the 60 Minutes segment (at end). After a 46-second Viagra commercial (WhereTF did they come up with 46 seconds?), the 14+ minute video of the segment plays. The entire transcript appears beneath the video.

      It’s a lot easier to understand HFT if you watch the video rather than read about it.

  2. dp2310 - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    Not sure if you’re serious but if you are…

    Viola runs a HFT shop (high frequency trading). The book by Michael Lewis talks about how the stock market is rigged by high frequency traders who front run other investors (i.e. they find out what that investor wants to buy/sell beforehand, and the HFT buys the stock before the investor and sells the stock to the investor at a higher price… usually less than a cent but times it by millions of trades every day).

    Because of the book, the FBI and SEC have started to look into HFT shops about their legitimacy and whether or not they were illegally benefiting from their strategy.

    If HFT shops do get banned/fined, Viola’s fortune would basically vanish over night.

    • 7mantel - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      The author was on The Today Show today

    • davebabychreturns - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      Sounds like the perfect Florida Panthers owner.

  3. enollatsknarf - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    So basically, rich guy gets even richer by doing something that is quasi-legal and definitely unethical.

    Nothing to see here folks, business as usual.

    • rdk - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      It’s effectively a tax on the stock market paid to a handful traders.

    • elvispocomo - Apr 1, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      Pretty much. If you have money you can game the system to get more money.

  4. sjsharks66 - Apr 1, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Awesome, thanks for clearing all that up! So if he lost all his money and then was forced to step down as the owner of the Panthers, I would assume the NHL would take them over until a new owner is found?

  5. chunkala - Apr 1, 2014 at 5:23 PM


    Quebec, KC, Seattle, Portland, Toronto anywhere please.

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Apr 1, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      Yeah, Bettman is going to let a NHL team who is top 5 in ad revenue (while continually being a last place team) leave south Florida. Just imagine, if someday, they actually start to win? With the young talent they have, those days aren’t far behind.

    • comeonnowguys - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Not Seattle. Phoenix will have nowhere to go.

  6. thewalkoffktxt - Apr 2, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    1. The NHL always gets the sketchy owners.

    2. Can you imagine if hockey took off in Miami (namely, a consistently winning team)? Stupid crazy revenue.

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