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Vesica Technologies Launches SHIFT, A Search Engine For The Options Market

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Vesica Technologies Launches SHIFT, A Search Engine For The Options Market

“Wall Street — it’s a fallacy to think it’s hard.”

That's according to Saad Hussain, founder, and CEO at Vesica Technologies, the company behind SHIFT, a search engine for the options market.

As part of Vesica’s launch of SHIFT and the closure of a $2.1 million seed round led by Mercury Digital Assets and Miami International Holdings, Hussain spoke with Benzinga on how his organization is making financial data more accessible and actionable, for all market participants.

About: Hussain is not your typical Wall Street hotshot. After immigrating to the U.S., from Pakistan, Hussain grew up in a low-income household, in Houston, Texas. In pursuit of happiness — the American dream, so to speak — Hussain answered the ultimate calling, finance.

“My background is derivatives in oil brokering, that’s where I got my start,” Hussain said in a discussion on his journey working in the financial centers of London and New York. “One thing I always noticed about Wall Street — it’s a fallacy to think it’s hard. Literally, anybody can do it.”

While working the trading floors, Hussain would often think about how glorified the finance profession was: “Everybody here thinks they’re super smart and changing the world. That’s not true.”

Given his conservative upbringing, Hussain cherished his understanding of the hard work the many millions of middle-class Americans engage in.

“One of the things I noticed about Wall Street was the rich became rich based off of investments,” the CEO said. “I would have loved it if somebody had told my father to buy $250 of a company called Apple, which was trading $0.64 at the time. It would have been awesome if my dad said, ‘Hey son, I [invested] this $500 and it’s now worth like $750,000.’”

Further, one of the hardest aspects of Hussain’s job, at the time, was understanding market color or flow, the real money transactions that reveal opinions of the largest, most informed market participants. When clients would call Hussain on the trading floor, he would provide unbiased context as to what is occurring in the market, real-time.

“Where’s the color, the value-add? What if I can tell you, ‘Did you know somebody is buying $90 calls like crazy in the past two days. It’s insane and we have not seen something like this in a while.’”

No such solutions, according to the founder, to uncover such valuable market insights existed.

“To this day, people ask: ‘Hey, I put $500 in my Robinhood or Webull account, what do I do?’”

In answering this question, at scale, Hussain, alongside Dr. Alessandro Warth, a former Alphabet Inc-owned (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google software engineer, built SHIFT, a search engine that visually unpacks fragmented market data.

“It’s an idealistic way to be able to let anybody, whoever you are, regardless of your background, beliefs, skin color, however rich or poor you are, see what’s happening in the market,” Hussain said. “You shouldn’t have to pay to understand … what are the real transactions happening in the market data, today.”

Core Product: “You can type in things like ‘The biggest call options today, or biggest puts being bought today,'" he said.

SHIFT brings clarity to the markets for everybody. Users don’t need advanced finance knowledge to understand where the biggest and smartest participants are putting their money.

“This is what I always wanted: a conversational piece where you can search markets for what’s happening. It shouldn’t be a matter of opinion.”

Now, through SHIFT, participants, whether novice or professional, based on activities in the options market for equities, commodities, and cryptocurrencies, can ask questions and visually understand the sentiment surrounding an asset, at any point in time.

“Oil has been on this earth for millions of years," Hussain said, "but it only became valuable in the mid-1800s when the first refineries were built. You have to do something to oil to make it valuable. The same is true with data. You have to refine it, and that’s what we’re doing.”

How It Works: With ease, users can instantly unpack market activity, free.

“It was probably the hardest thing to do, to aggregate all the legs of these different trades,” Hussain noted. The insights derived can be as complex as users want them to be; “If you want to dig in and do some research, you can.”

The launch of SHIFT comes alongside the meme-stock craze; “Last year, I told some of our investors that eventually, a million iPhones would be more powerful, together, than certain hedge funds in the market. That’s exactly what happened with GameStop.”

Earlier this year, shares of GameStop Corporation (NYSE: GME) rose as high as $513.12. From a delta one perspective, the event was a short squeeze, exacerbated by the aggressive purchase of stock and short-term call options, on the part of retail investors, and opportunistic institutional activity.

“You should be able to look on SHIFT and understand what is happening. What is this thing with GameStop? What are the real transactions happening in the market today? Then, you go do your research based on what you discovered.”

Recent Developments: Earlier this year, Vesica announced the closure of a $2.1-million seed round led by Mercury Digital Assets and Miami International Holdings, the parent of the MIAX Exchange Group.

The market leaders share Vesica’s vision in leveling the playing field for market participants.

“They believed it and I’m so grateful for them, on that part, to be able to understand the forward vision of how society is going to change,” Hussain noted in a discussion on helping younger generations understand historically complex financial concepts. “They’ve been exposed to a search engine, social media, and the ability to have information at their fingertips infinitely more than I ever could."

Innovation Outlook: Vesica will use the new funding to grow and add more data to its platform.

“The ultimate goal is to allow anybody, at any point, on any exchange or market in the world, to be able to see,” the CEO said in a discussion on Vesica’s ethos which is built around the democratization of information. “Robinhood, Webull, and all these free stock trading applications are like the web browsers. They brought people to the market. Now we come in.”

 

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