The competitive landscape in the field of desktop interoperability has long been dominated by three key players: Glue42, Finsemble, and OpenFin. The recently announced merger of Glue42 and Finsemble to form a new company, interop.io, heralds the beginning of a new chapter in the fast evolving interoperability and desktop integration space. The rationale behind this strategic decision provides a valuable insight into the evolving dynamics of the capital markets technology sector.
In this interview for TradingTech Insight, Dan Schleifer, previously CEO of Finsemble and Leslie Spiro, previously CEO of Glue42 – now serving as President and CEO of the new entity respectively – discuss the rationale behind the merger and how they envision the future for interop.io and its clients.
Drivers behind the merger
Formerly fierce competitors in the interoperability space, particularly in the capital markets industry, what drove the two firms to join forces?
“Despite the competition, we held a tremendous amount of respect for what Leslie and his team had built – a sentiment that was mutual,” explains Schleifer. “As the market for interoperability expanded, we found that prospective customers would often whittle their vendor options down to Glue42 and Finsemble. Feedback from customers indicated that there were elements from both of us that they admired, creating a situation where the merger would allow us to offer a superset of functionalities from both firms. Most importantly, it seemed that the market wanted us to come together, which we did in response to those requests.”
“The merger allows clients to choose the best of both worlds, which excites them,” adds Spiro. “The cultural fit between us, our shared commitment to clients, and consistent visions about interop all made the merger an easy decision.”
It was essential to answer how the merger would work to the benefit of mutual customers, says Schleifer. “We sought to create a unified platform with little to no transition impact on our clients, and that work began late last year. On day one, nothing changes with the technology clients are currently using or the support they receive. What does change is the knowledge that their partner in this critical infrastructure of smart desktop technology is the largest, most stable, and most innovative vendor in the market. In the medium to long term, instead of each of the two firms trying to compete to build features and functionality, we’re going to move twice as fast.”
A key aspect of the merger will be the integration of the award-winning technologies of Glue42 and Finsemble to deliver a comprehensive suite of interoperability solutions. Central to the platform is io.Connect, a tool that empowers clients to construct and launch sophisticated front ends, merging various applications and features into one unified, smart desktop environment.
“Our visions of what interop means are so consistent that it also made our products consistent, which is why we kept ending up as the two companies in head-to-head run-offs,” says Spiro.
“io.Connect is just one part of our product offering, where we have io.Connect desktop, an Electron-based container, and io.Connect browser, our zero-deployment browser option,” he explains. “But within the io platform, we offer a full set of features, including notification management, client management, and the ability to collect metrics or analytical insights. And all of that is unique to us. Our commitment now is to support the Glue42 API, the Finsemble API and the FDC3 API as first class citizens, allowing for complete interoperability, so applications will not need to be changed to move to our merged platform. And that’s an important point to stress.
As the finance industry’s standard for desktop interoperability, FDC3 (the Financial Desktop Connectivity and Collaboration Consortium) has always been a foundational element for both firms. Will this still be the case under the new entity?
“We’re keen supporters of FDC3, it’s an initiative that fits well with our vision,” confirms Spiro. “Interoperability, as we see it, consists of data integration, and UX Orchestration. The most common data integration, is defined by FDC3, which provides click-to-sync and click-to-launch functionalities. These allow for seamless operations across different applications, like updating windows in multiple apps simultaneously or viewing related orders with a single click. It also involves defining a common language to describe instruments and trades. In fact, one of our principal engineers, Dr. Kris West, currently leads the FDC3 initiative, reflecting our commitment to it. The UX orchestration allows us to bring windows from different applications into seamless workflows and task specific workspaces.”
“We see FDC3 as crucial, but not entirely sufficient to address the complex business problems our customers face,” adds Schleifer. “So although we remain committed to supporting and developing the FDC3 standards, our technology platform provides more than just that. A good analogy would be to the FIX protocol. FIX has become indispensable; we can’t imagine a world without it. However, FIX didn’t eliminate the need for an Order Management System (OMS) or an Execution Management System (EMS); it simply provided a basic protocol to link them.”
As interoperability comes of age, Schleifer believes the industry is now at an inflection point. “There’s no doubt that this is a rapidly expanding market. Interop has crossed the chasm from being a nice-to-have to a must-have in the world of financial services, and we’re now seeing it start to penetrate other industries as well, like healthcare, government, and more,” he says. “With our merger, we’re confident that we have the most comprehensive and innovative solution on the market. And with our commitment to APIs like FDC3, we’re making it easier than ever for clients to take advantage of interoperability without having to worry about vendor lock-in.”
Spiro agrees that the future looks bright. “We have a roadmap that’s full of exciting new capabilities,” he says. “But perhaps the most significant is our work on the io.Connect Browser option, which allows for zero-deployment interoperability, meaning users can enjoy the benefits of our platform without having to install any additional software. It’s a game-changer for companies looking to rapidly deploy and scale their interoperability efforts.”
“We’re always pushing to make our platform more user-friendly,” concludes Schleifer. “We’re continually listening to feedback from our clients and working to enhance the user experience. So, while the technology underpinning everything is crucial, we’re equally committed to making sure our solution is intuitive and easy to use.”
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