Can Weeresinghe make the London Stock Exchange succeed in IT sales?

I had a great meeting with Tony Weeresinghe, the man that set up MillenniumIT.

This is the Sri lankan software development house that the London Stock Exchange spent £18m on acquiring in September 2009. This was a bold move to replace its core trading platform Tradelect with the MillenniumIT core trading software.

So it is a company that offers outsourced software development that was bought by a potential customer. Reminds me of that advert about an electric shaver. You know the one “so good I bought the company.”

Not only that but the new owner wants it to continue to sell to its competitors.

Weeresinghe is a very interesting man. I will be writing lots of stories as a result of the interview, but to cut a long story short, he is a Sri Lankan that did not go to university because he was only being offered physics when he wanted to study engineering. He later became the Sri Lankan head of Oracle and then ran Sun Microsystems’ Sri Lankan agent.

He eventually sold Millennium IT to the London Stock Exchange where he now works as head of MillenniumIT which is part of the London Stock Exchange but sells technology in its own right.

Rather than reduce Millennium’s sales business to focus on developing for the London Stock Exchange it sees the acquisition as a potential sales boost.

He said in the past MillenniumIT has been shunned by the big exchanges, because it did not have the strong balance sheet that is required to be taken seriously.

“Nothing has changed since our acquisition but we have the new brand and a strong balance sheet,” added Weeresinghe.

He said without the backing of the London Stock Exchange it would struggle to compete. “The goal posts have moved because we compete with the actual exchanges. This makes it difficult because people buy for the relationship and thje name not necessarily for the technology.”

So other trading firms can buy the same trading platform as the one used by the London Stock Exchange. Although Weeresinghe points out that there has been a lot of work at the infrastructure level to increase the performance levels such as trading speeds at the London Stock Exchange. “You can rest assured we will be the fastest in the market.”

Millennium IT does a full range of products aimed at the capital markets such as clearing systems.

For exchanges that do not want to use the same technology as a competitor Weeresinghe said: “How many Ferraris do you see on the race track?”

Although other sectors are harnessing complex event processing software similar to that used in the trading industry MillenniumIT will keep its focus. “We understand the trading business.”