Atlas Commodity Markets, LLC
Founded: September 2008
Original Founders: Mike Bridges, Bob Shults, Chris Yarrow, Kenneth Frieden
Business Model: Introducing Broker (Educational Video)
Let’s get this out of the way up front. I do not care if you like the name Atlas or not.
Atlas Acquisitions, Inc. was formed to acquire DealBench. In the three years after Enron there were three iterations of DealBench, all of which effectively failed. At some point in those three years, one conversation stayed with me. It happened outside of a bar somewhere in Manhattan talking with John Brooks, an old friend from ConAgra. John had just started a job with Sempra as an ethanol trader. He was telling me about the ethanol marketplace, and I stopped him and said, “Hire me. I know exactly how this plays out.” Luckily, he did not hire me, but he was a fantastic first customer for what would become Atlas Commodity Markets.
LESSON LEARNED: Find a customer that will pay you too much for too little when starting out. John did that for us.
Contemplating all the major topics I want to be sure to share here, I am reminded of so many stories. DAMN. WE HAVE SOME GREAT STORIES. I know everyone thinks they have great stories—WE HAVE GREAT STORIES. Frequently someone will tell me one of their “crazy stories” and I think to myself, that was a Tuesday afternoon at Atlas. A huge hedge fund once asked me, “What is the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in this market?” “A fist fight in a hotel room in Kansas City.” Apparently, he was asking about crazy price action.
LESSON LEARNED: Remember the good times.
About the art: This hung in our office for years. I loved it because so many people discounted us. I don’t know who the artist was. (I think it came from 20×200 if that is even a thing anymore)
Three Fun Facts:
Atlas was cash flow positive from month one and stayed there until it’s sale to TPICAP in 2018.
The SEC consulted with Atlas in the determination to allow the eventual merger between the NYMEX and CME.
Atlas takes credit for introducing financial derivatives into the ethanol market.