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Thomas Peterffy

Thomas Peterffy, a pioneer in digital stock trading, runs brokerage business Interactive Brokers Group. He has made himself the company's figurehead and spokesman. Peterffy arrived in America in 1965 as the penniless descendant of Hungarian aristocrats who'd lost nearly all to the Soviets. He got into electronic trading decades before the exchanges digitized, making his Timber Hill into one of the world's largest market makers. When faster trader

Background

  • Mr. Thomas Peterffy founded Interactive Brokers Canada Inc. in 2000 and serves as its Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President. Mr. Peterffy is responsible for day-to-day management at Interactive Brokers. He founded Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. in 1994 and has been its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since November 2006 and served as its President from November 2006 to October 2014. Mr. Peterffy served as Computer Programmer for 10 years. He serves as Chairman of OneChicago LLC. He founded Interactive Brokers Group LLC in 1994 and has been its Director since November 2006. He has been a Member of the American Stock Exchange since 1977.

  • Education

    • In 1965, Mr. Peterffy left his engineering studies and emigrated to the United States as a refugee.

    Career

    • After emigration to the USA and not speaking any English but having had some engineering education, he began his career as an architectural draftsman working on highway projects for an engineering firm in New York. There he volunteered to program their newly purchased computer. This became his signature venture since he seemed to have an uncanny talent for the logic and organization of the electronic media.

      His unusual mathematical mind, bordering on genius, was the vehicle that enabled him to create a career unprecedented in the recent cyber-history of Hungarians.

      By the early 1970s, Peterffy had saved up enough money to purchase his own seat on the American Stock Exchange to trade equity options. Throughout his whole career he has consistently pushed to replace manual processes with more efficient automated ones. During the trading day he would write code in his head and then, after hours, apply his ideas to computerized trading models.

      His current company, Interactive Brokers, consisting of many subsidiaries worldwide, has its roots in Peterffy’s first company, T.P.&Co. that he founded in 1978. A year later it expanded to four employees. In 1982, he formed Timber Hill Inc., initially trading equity options at the AMEX.

      In 1983, Timber Hill (i.e. Peterffy) created the first hand-held computers for trading. Their introduction, indeed, created a major stir among traders on the trading floor. That same year they began trading at the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and the company expanded to 12 employees.

      Following this man’s professional career from here on makes anyone’s head spin. Our hero begins coding a computerized stock index futures and options trading system and every year the company extends to further markets, from New York to Chicago, from the Pacific to Germany. In 1987, Timber Hill has 67 employees that grows to142 in 1992 and expands to Switzerland in the same year. The impressive increase continues into the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Austria as well as to Hong Kong and Australia. In 1994, the Timber Hill Group LLC is formed as the holding company for all of Timber Hill’s operating companies. By the year 1997, Timber Hill boasts 284 employees worldwide.

      In 2001, the corporate name of the Timber Hill Group LLC is changed to Interactive Brokers Group LLC of which he is CEO as well as Chairman. Today Interactive Brokers’ headquarters is in Greenwich, Connecticut, and it has approximately 880 employees in its offices in the USA, Switzerland, Australia, Hungary, Russia, Japan, India, China and Estonia. Interactive Brokers Group and its affiliates execute nearly 1,000,000 trades per day. Peterffy is often called the “Father of High Speed Trading” since he was the initial force in computerizing Wall Street.

    Politics

    On October 10th, 2012 Interactive Brokers Group founder and CEO Thomas Peterffy posted a video to his eponymous on YouTube account titled “Freedom To Succeed” where Peterffy urged viewers to vote Republican that November. In fact, he isn’t even registered with a political party according to state of Connecticut voter registration records, which list the Greenwich resident as “unaffiliated.”

    Party affiliation: Unaffiliated

    Views

    Quotations: "I grew up in a socialist country. And I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom. No pride in achievement."

    "Yes, in socialism the rich will be poorer - but the poor will also be poorer. People will lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs."

    "America's wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with badmouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy."

    "Never bend the rules. You bend the rules a little bit and then it's a slippery slope."

    "It seems like people don't learn from the past."

    "The rich support the poor primarily via taxes."

    "Some traders still think that a computer could not trade as well as they can."

    Personality

    Being so intensely immersed in business, albeit successfully, takes its toll on marriages. Peterffy is twice divorced with three adult children. Now he has been seeing a lovely Greenwich socialite, Lynn Wheat, for years.

    An avid equestrian, in 2004 Peterffy purchased an 80-acre horse farm on Conyer’s Farm in backcountry Greenwich, for $45 million. It includes a main house with two master suites, six additional bedrooms, a swimming pool, sauna, wine cellar and servants’ quarters, four guest houses, a caretaker’s cottage, two grooms’ quarters and a horse stable with 22 stalls. This estate has been the stage for many exclusive parties and celebrations including his 65th birthday.

    A few years ago he also purchased a property known as Blossom Estates in Palm Beach, where his vacation house with an 800+ foot-long boardwalk through the mangroves is being built for him and his guests to watch nature at its best.

    Some patently absurd false postings on the Internet claim he was born in 1956, that he is a Jew, that he came to the US in 1956 – you name it. An array of condemning, often vitriolic, blogs is appearing daily against the man who could achieve more, much-much more with his rare talent than they did and ever will. What they forget is not only what Peterffy contributes to society by paying his taxes that by now reached about $2 billion in his lifetime, but by assisting millions of investors without whose investments the economy would die. This means that he is not creating all this wealth just for himself to revel in luxury but he actually helps create jobs. Not only in his own offices but in the whole industry.

    At his age, Peterffy still is totally active in his business. With his newly created Probability Lab he helps his clients understand and participate in business decisions. With his current (August, 2014) net worth of $9 Billion, Peterffy ranks #58 among US billionaires and #139 worldwide.

    Connections

    • He is twice divorced and has three adult children.
    Thomas Peterffy
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    Born 1944
    (age 73)
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    • 1977 - present
      Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (Financial & Commodity Market Operators)
      Greenwich, Connecticut, United States
    • 1996 - present
      Founder, Chairman & President, Timber Hill LLC

    Contributor  

    Lena Baranchik

    last changed 26/12/2015 view changes
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