About Geoff Kratz

Geoff is the founder of FarWest Software, Inc., as well as co-founder of Alberta Market Solutions and Dark Technologies/BIDS Trading. He has spent most of the last 15 years working on software for stock exchanges, clearing houses and broker/dealers.

Geoff’s career started in 1986, after graduation from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He started as a Research Assistant with the U of C, working for Dr. Brian Unger. Geoff worked on a 3D system for designing lighting layout for live stage productions. This system ran on the Macintosh.

In 1987, Geoff started work with DataSpan Technologies, where he worked on a system that took scanned raster map data and converted it to vector data. Geoff’s role was to work on GUI frameworks for the end-user tools, as well as network/system administration (it was a small organization).

Geoff moved to Ottawa to work for Bell-Northern Research (BNR) in 1989, working for Alex Brown out of the various labs in the Ottawa area. Geoff started out in the network engineering group, working with the team that designed and implemented the building LANs, the metro network for Ottawa and the core of the wide area network for BNR and Nortel. Geoff then moved on to group communications tools, working on enabling technologies and an OSF/Motif-based user interface for the COCOS mail system.

He moved back to Calgary in 1992, working briefly with the WNDX Corporation on a portable GUI framework. In 1993, Geoff joined a former BNR colleague, Adrian Ruigrok, at Microsoft at their Vancouver lab. There, Geoff worked on the Connection Naming Utility (CNU) that came with the gateway that joined Microsoft’s two electronic mail products: Microsoft Mail for PC Networks and Microsoft Mail for Macintosh Networks. Geoff returned to Microsoft briefly in 1994 to help out with some maintenance items and to port the gateway over to Microsoft Exchange. As part of his work, Geoff was co-inventor on US Patent #5,644,706 Failure Detection and Reporting for a Computer Mail Gateway. It was around this time that Geoff formed FarWest Software, Inc. to conduct his consulting and contract work.

Geoff worked on various contracts in 1994, primarily through S.I. Systems. Work there included consulting on technology for an interior design firm, support and product management for a distribution of the OSF/Motif toolkit, and training customers on the use of Motif.

He joined a project in 1995 for the Alberta Stock Exchange, working through ComputerTech Consultants and ForeThought. There, Geoff designed and built the first version of the publish-and-subcribe messaging system for what would become the Horizon trading system. Geoff joined the prime contractor, EFA Software in 1995 as their Chief Technical Architect. Geoff continued to work on the evolution of Horizon, including work on the messaging system and on performance tuning and benchmarking. Geoff was also responsible for assisting customers in capacity planning for stock exchange implementations around the globe. He would also go on-site to answer customer questions, look into production problems, and help plan for upgrades and enhancements. Customers included the Alberta Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the Boston Stock Exchange, the Karachi Stock Exchange and the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency.

After EFA shut down in late 2002, Geoff got together with Jim Bird, Jim Lee, Sik Ngai, Paul Hanson and Mark Beddis to form Alberta Market Solutions Ltd. (AMSL). The six partners engaged in a number of contracts from 2002 until the formation of BIDS Trading in 2006. During that time, Geoff provided support for the Horizon system for the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, and worked extensively with IBM on their strategy for selling into large global exchanges. He and Jim Bird worked with IBM’s global team to develop the Stock Exchange Reference Architecture (SXRA), an approach that demonstrated how it was possible to use off-the-self technologies to be highly available, high-performance trading systems for large exchanges. Much of that work has been gaining traction, allowing IBM to win deals with exchanges such as Deutsche Borse. As part of this work, Geoff is a co-inventor on US Patent Application #20080168025 Methods, Systems, and Computer Program Products for Reducing Database Workload Volume.

In 2006, the idea the AMSL team was working on became reality in the form of BIDS Trading. BIDS Trading is an Alternative Trading System that allows buy-side and sell-side firms to anonymously trade large blocks of stock. Geoff’s role was primarily on the infrastructure side. He was responsible for the selection process for the initial outsourcing for system hosting and management, and worked with the selected vendor, OMX, on system and network configuration, security, and operations procedures. Geoff also laid the groundwork for the initial sell-side integration, doing the first work on the FIX interface and working with the original sell-side owners to integrate their systems in with BIDS Trading. Geoff then moved on to operations processes. He started by taking ITIL training, and then worked with the operations team to develop processes and procedures to improve incident handling and reduce operational errors. Geoff also developed a number of tools to assist in the monitoring and management of the BIDS Trading systems and technologies.

At the end of 2009, Geoff left BIDS Trading and is currently on his own again. He is looking at applications and technologies for the iPhone, and looking for the next “big idea” for the next business he expects to build.

One thought on “About Geoff Kratz

  1. Pingback: Considering working at a startup? | StartUpHire Blog

Comments are closed.