BTS Profiles: Kevin Darby

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Blue Trading Systems is a family of traders, technologists, innovators and committed professionals. The women and men that work here want to build something that not only meets demand but advances the industry. We are sharp, loyal and strategic.

In 2018, we wanted to highlight the people behind the name. These are the ones applying their knowledge, dedicating their time and investing their money in Blue Trading Systems. Throughout this year we invite you to learn more about the people building the solutions.

This week we are excited to introduce Kevin Darby, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Blue Trading Systems. Kevin will be in Florida next week at the Futures Industry Association Boca conference. If you would like to meet with him, please send him a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kevin Darby
What is your name, title and responsibilities at Blue Trading Systems?

My name is Kevin Darby, I am one of the four Co-founders of BTS and serve as Managing Partner. My responsibilities have shifted substantially since we started. During the early days we found that our way of thinking about volatility and risk as a trading firm was quite different from what ISVs were doing in the commercial software space, so I spent time reworking our vol and risk models to better satisfy new expectations.

Although I really enjoy technical work, and I still hop in the dev queue if it makes sense, it soon became clear that my focus should turn from software development to business development. Today I do sales calls, marketing strategy meetings and gather intelligence we use to help guide our company. It’s my responsibility to ensure that BTS gets enough exposure and data from the outside world to be a player in our space. I also manage our external partnerships and to a large extent, general customer relations.

How did you get into this field of derivatives trading? Trader or technologist?

I sort of snuck in through the side door. I started as a intern on the CBOE floor in the summer of 1999 while still in college. I nervously muddled through an interview set up by my aunt with Blue Capital and was given a job entering trade cards into MicroHedge. My first day I miskeyed a trade, and, minutes later, as the loud, belligerent screams and insults came through the phone into my ear, I knew I’d found the place for me. The urgency and intensity of the trading world was appealing; I was fascinated by what seemed to be total chaos.

During my internship, I was able to make some company processes (like printing sheets!) more efficient through writing software and spreadsheets. Eventually the company sent me to North Carolina to meet Trevor Colvin, where I asked him to, “give me six months to figure this software thing out, otherwise fire me and I’ll go back to college.” He agreed, and over the next several years, I learned financial and software engineering through Trevor and the other members of the Blue Capital team. Over time, the chaotic picture drawn from the trading floor gave way to a serene view of the markets and of the mathematical relationships that must obtain without regard to market fluctuation or emotion.

From your perspective, can you describe the relationship between BTS and its clients?
We have a high degree of empathy for our customers; having been on the other side of the vendor-client relationship, we know that technology has capacity both to positively shape a trading group and to put a large divot into an otherwise rosy P&L. We recognize that we play a large part in our customers’ livelihood, as they do in our own. This is a big deal to us. We genuinely feel terrible about software errors and work like hell to correct them quickly.

How has BTS evolved since you started at the company?

Tremendously. The transition from an R&D group with a single captive ‘customer’ to commercial software vendor took a lot longer than anyone expected. Our group and our software are more mature, now better through years of struggle together.

Our foray into the futures space is a large leap. We are developing BTS Spark in response to futures traders’ demand for more control over server hardware, better support from vendor partners, and lower latency. We’ve also established new partnerships, such as our relationship with Celoxica, which helps us provide an accelerated version of BTS Spark with expanded market coverage. I am excited to see how things shake out here.

What are a few challenges the industry is currently facing?
Consolidation in the market making space has made for tough growth conditions. This trend continues, not only in options, but in futures as well.

What is your favorite piece of advice regarding trading, technology, the markets, leadership?

“My dear fellow, who will let you?”
“That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”
—Howard Roark in response to The Dean of Stanton, The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

I also like the paraphrase, “We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” which is drawn from a passage in Atlas Shrugged

If you had to pick, what animal would you be and why?
Probably a vampire. Super strength, speed, and the ability to fly would come in handy. And then there’s immortality-- enough time to develop a deep understanding of any subject or embark on any project in perpetuity would be worth getting a little gristle in my teeth.

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