We are still in the early days of cryptocurrency — or at least that’s what all of the startups that are jumping into this space NOW hope. And when there’s a gold rush, there’s plenty of money to be made by selling shovels (or ASIC rigs) to miners. It’s no surprise, then, that we are now seeing the emergence of a new class of B2B startups in crypto, too (think Trading Technologies and TradeDesk).
Among the newest entries in this business is Seattle-based Strix Leviathan, which is building a crypto-trading platform for large entities like hedge funds, banks and traditional enterprise companies that don’t want to have to build their own trading infrastructure.
Strix Leviathan was founded by Jesse Proudman, who previously founded Blue Box in 2003, a cloud computing company that focused on private cloud deployment, which he then sold to IBM in 2015.
Proudman tells me he started tracking the cryptocurrency markets a while ago, but that it was only last summer, when he took an entrepreneur in residence position at IBM, that he started focusing on this. “This set of technologies reminds me of being at my startup in 1997 — at the start of the internet,” he told me. He argues that what we have today is a set of technologies that have been deployed in the real world and that provide a large enough ecosystem, yet there is a huge user experience problem because it takes months of learning to actually understand these systems.
The project started because Proudman wanted to build his own algorithmic trading platform for cryptocurrencies, something that looks like a timely idea, given that the days of simply hodling seem to be coming to an end. In this process, though, he also learned about the intricacies and oddities of many of the major exchanges. “We’re in an immature time in the marketplace where many of the exchanges have API issues,” he told me. That means an exchange may never confirm if a trade went through or if a request timed out, for example.
With Strix Leviathan, Proudman and his team are now building a trading engine that’s pluggable and that can handle both support for new exchanges as they come online and the idiosyncrasies of the platforms.
In its current incarnation, Strix Leviathan (that name doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it?) consists of two parts: a data ingestion engine that pulls in historic data about the value of various cryptocurrencies and related data to allow the company to build its automatic trading algorithms, and a trade execution engine. The focus right now seems to be on the execution engine, which Proudman believes may even be of interest to existing crypto companies that aren’t satisfied with their current trading infrastructure. The platform currently supports all the major exchanges, including GDAX, Bitfinex, Binance, etc.
As for the automated trading side of the business, the team is still trying to determine how to proceed with that and how to bring it to market.
The project is currently self-funded, but given Proudman’s track record, we’ll likely see a funding round soon.
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