Before being introduced, the GridMarkets founders, Mark and Hakim, had many common connections and even worked at the same company. A chance email from a mutual friend a half a world away in New York City served as our introduction - which took place in one of Hong Kong’s wonderful coffee shops.
Prior to that coffee, we both had been corporate junkies but now were itching to do something entrepreneurial.
Hakim had already proven himself in the corporate world by then, with his last position being a regional strategic business development director at Thomson Reuters. He had built the business up from a US$10-million revenue unit to US$30 million – in three years. But Hakim wanted to do something disruptive and something that took him back to his technical roots.
Mark, having previously been a Chief Information Officer for Fortune 500 global financial services companies, knew that most companies were dramatically under utilising their servers. It was this insight that led to the approach that ultimately addressed the needs of the hedge fund: to leverage the unused capacity of willing counterparties. As we further explored the concept, we learned what worked and what did not. We also developed a practical vision for scaling both the suppliers of computational resources and those consuming it.
A few months later, Mark met a colleague that he had once worked with at Credit Suisse in New York City. During a fantastic dinner overlooking Hong Kong harbour from the Kowloon side, Mark updated Steve on the plan to start GridMarkets. Steve was so enthusiastic about the concept that he literally reached into his pocket, wrote a check, handed it to Mark, becoming our first Angel.
The idea, the experience, the partnership and the investment was now in hand - and GridMarkets was born.
During our first year of operation, we delivered over 500,000 computing hours to over 200 animators and architects worldwide. We also added several more Angels, all of whom proved to be enormously helpful to GridMarkets. Numerous partnerships were established with companies around the world who are either GridMarkets suppliers or consumers. During our first year of operation, GridMarkets was recognised for its innovative approach - we won innovation awards from the BBVA, Echelon and Red Herring.
At the time, Mark’s entrepreneurial career was well underway. He had established a successful cloud computing consulting company as well as the Asia Cloud Computing Association. The Association promoted the adoption of cloud computing in Asia with major cloud players including Microsoft, Cisco, RackSpace, Telstra Global and others. The consulting company advised multi-nationals on the benefits of and practical adoption strategies for cloud computing.
It was through a cloud consulting engagement that Mark and Hakim began to collaborate. We joined forces to advise a hedge fund on approaches to leverage cloud architectures to computationally power market modelling algorithms.
The hedge fund needed significant computational power, in the 1000’s of machines, to drive the algorithms that predict market movements. Cloud solutions were the first to be explored - but ruled out due to unfavourable economics. A novel approach was needed.