The Power of Positive Destruction: How To Turn a Business Idea into a <Revolution>, by Seth Merrin and Carlyle Adler ISBN 9781119196426
Five out of five stars
Merrin was one of the primary creators of software to manage electronic trading, revolutionizing the trading of stocks, making it both simpler and much more complicated. When he took a Wall Street job as an intern in the 1980s, there were several layers to a stock transaction and all was recorded on paper. Furthermore, if an individual wanted to buy or sell a large block of stock, it was generally necessary to do so in small increments so that the action did not modify the price in a way that was detrimental to the entity doing the trade. By converting this to an electronic form, stock trading was dramatically simplified and easier to manage.
On the other side, it led to the loss of jobs in trading, for now a person on a computer could do trades much faster and the records were automatically updated. It also led to the modern phenomenon of triggered trades, when a programmed set of conditions is met and computers begin executing massive, automated trades. In the area of dark humor, this also made it possible for massive, inadvertent trades to be made based only on a typing error.
This book is essentially a directed autobiography of Merrin’s life in the businesses that he was part of that led to the trading software. In the overview sense, it is a typical biography of an entrepreneur, failures at the start, eventual rapid growth and success, harsh realities of the world setting in leading to a downturn and layoffs, all ending in what is clearly a successful life.
Written in a first-person narrative style, it is a very interesting book, setting down some not often recognized realities. Such as the pros and cons of good and bad hires, clearing house when there are irreconcilable conflicts between work groups, the value of being a good corporate citizen of the world and having a “no a##h#le” culture. To some, trying to do good is a sign of weakness, Merrin demonstrates that properly done, being a do-gooder is a sign of corporate strength that is rewarded.