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Pico Pushes on to Fulfil Global Expansion Plan

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Pico, a provider of infrastructure, connectivity, cloud technology, data and analytics services, has a global expansion plan and is pushing on to fulfil it with an additional 20 colocation facilities due to be up and running across Asia this year, expansion of its PicoNet proprietary network, hybrid connectivity options including radio transmission, and ongoing developments of its market data and analytics services.

To find out more about Pico’s plans, we talked to Roland Hamann, managing director and global head of product and APAC, who joined the company in 2014 to build out its European presence and is now directing the expansion plan from Singapore. Newly hired to further growth of the company’s EMEA business is Emma Wheeler, an ICE And Thomson Reuters alumni who takes the role of chief commercial officer for EMEA and joins Pico’s senior executive team next month.

At its heart, Pico takes a personalised approach to business and stays close to the market, driving delivery of what customers want and playing into trading firms’ increasing desire to work with less vendor partners. Hamann explains: “Our value proposition is not to come to market with ‘this is what we have built’, but to help clients build what they need in a colocation centre and become more performant. We deploy all the gear and run it, the client just runs an applications layer. This differentiates us from competitors that standardise solutions.”

Evidencing the company’s approach, Hamman says Pico uses only its own staff to go into location centres and build for clients. He comments: “We use our own remote hands everywhere.” This is quite a feat considering the company’s global expansion plans, but it will likely be achieved by Pico’s existing 240 employees, new hires, and increasing automation. As Hamann puts it: “If you do something once, that’s great, if you do it twice, that’s a shame, as you should have automated it the first time.”

What customers want next, he says, is Pico everywhere so that they can take opportunities and get to market quickly. The expansion plan has already implemented colocation services at HK2, HK5 and HKX in Hong Kong, SGX and SG1 in Singapore, and TY3 in Toyo this year, and more are to come. Next on the plan are colocation services in Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, with Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia following towards the end of the year and, perhaps, India and China. Hamann comments: “The global climate is fostering interest in trading across Europe and Asia.”

The company is also looking at the potential of building presence in other regions, particularly Eastern Europe, excluding Russia on the basis of sanctions, the Middle East and South America.

Pico has over 240 clients on a global basis, ranging from Tier 1 investment banks to two or three man algo shops. There are also high-frequency traders, market makers, exchanges, matching engines and IT teams buying market data from the company for their clients use. It is also talking to regulators struggling to manage huge data volumes about how it could help.

As it extends its colocation network, Pico is not standing still on the product and service front, most recently introducing a global connectivity ring that expands the private and proprietary low-latency PicoNet backbone to major financial data centres in North America, Europe and Asia.

Hamann explains that the company’s previous focus was on building its offering in the US and European regions and connectivity was tailored for this with 10Gbps low latency diverse connectivity between the US and Europe, with more limited bandwidth through Asia for specific customer solutions. To meet customer needs as its global footprint has rapidly expanded, including a growing presence in the major Asian trading centres, Pico has upgraded to 10Gbps globally with full diversity while connecting the recognised major regional centres of Tokyo, New York and London, creating the new global ring.

Existing customers will not have to make any changes, but will benefit from access to additional markets and services that can be delivered at market-leading latencies between the US, EU and APAC regions. Hamann says the global ring is the first of its kind to combine carrier-grade connectivity with cost-effective scale and resiliency. He adds: “Now, every client has direct access to global markets including our high-quality market datasets.”

Answering a final question about whether Pico will go public, Hamann concludes: “Not now, that would be a distraction.”

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