Our story begins in the trade pits of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) where Virtu's Founder, Vincent Viola, began his career as an independent local market maker. Vinnie recognized the efficiencies and benefits inherent to a transition from the "open outcry" system to the fully electronic markets that exist today. As Chairman of the NYMEX from 2001 through 2004, Vinnie witnessed the shift to electronic trading first hand and formed a company to fulfill the market making needs of this new marketplace.
Though its heart and heritage will always be with the local pit traders in New York and Chicago, Virtu has capitalized on Vinnie's vision and has grown to be active in virtually every major market around the world. Virtu is now the global leader in electronic market making. We actively make markets across a broad range of asset classes including equities, foreign exchange, commodities, options and fixed income, providing two-sided liquidity on over two hundred market centers around the world. As market makers, we lower costs for both retail and institutional investors by supplying competitive bids and offers, without seeking to take on risky directional positions. Virtu's liquidity provision plays a vital role in the overall health and efficiency of the global financial markets, especially in times of market turbulence.
Virtu is successful because we focus not just on the trade but on every aspect of the "life cycle" of a trade, from market structure knowledge and execution technology to post-trade processing and relationship management. At the core of our business is the development of innovative, proprietary technology, designed to automate market making and post-trade activities. Virtu is the new model for a financial services company. Virtu is not the stereotypical alpha-male, ego dominated Wall Street firm. We do not focus on organizational charts or titles, nor do we lift ourselves up by pushing others down. We are not driven by personal gain or attribution. We do not take shortcuts around the hard issues, nor are we afraid to stand alone on important matters.
The real secret sauce to the success of Virtu has been, and always will be, our people. From the top down Virtu is made up of a phenomenal community. Our firm is built on our traders and developers. Our traders do not sell financial products to customers. They work as a team to develop and execute proprietary trading strategies which provide liquidity to the market. Our technologists are some of the best in the world. They are passionate about the financial markets and form a crucial part of our trading. Around this core group we have outstanding support teams including our IT, finance, compliance and facilities groups.