As they say, it never rains but pours, and this last couple of weeks has seen us get introduced to several new and emerging vendors. Yesterday, I spoke with Topaz Technology in London. Topaz was founded in 2015 by Jon Fox and colleagues. Jon is ex-Trafigura, and he knows the trading and risk business extremely well having held several roles during his career including working as a trader and risk manager, as well as on the technical side of things. Many of his Topaz colleagues have held a variety of similar roles. He has also worked with his fair share of CTRM solutions and never found one that he felt handled a cross-commodity business well in terms of trade and analytics in one solution, he told me. So, he started Topaz.
Topaz has been busy building out its solution set and has been totally self-funded to date. The focus has been to build a true multi-commodity solution. It also focused on analytics in areas like options and physical optimization where he sees many CTRM’s as being very weak and requiring off-system tools like spreadsheets to manage things. Topaz has also taken advantage of the new technologies available these days as well. “The Topaz platform provides real-time, cross-commodity risk management and valuation services,” he told me adding, “We took the time to design the optimal architecture for Topaz, selecting the best technologies for our customers’ needs. We have leveraged modern open source technology to create a scalable distributed system.” It is available as SaaS, on-premises, or in a “hybrid form” in Azure for example.
It is plain listening to Jon that his experience of needed functionality and lack of system features has driven the direction of the platform. For example, he told me “traders have different ideas on how things are, so we have designed what we call a calculation profile that allows them to set up their own valuation rules and model parameters but within the system. This avoids traders going off-system to do this.” Topaz has also focused on the derivatives and physical optionality side of things where many solutions are weak.
Topaz currently has two high-profile customers in oil and gas and has only recently started to market its platform. “We wanted to do it properly and build something without being driven in a specific direction by an early customer,” he told me. “We used the experience of the Topaz team in the industry and with other solutions to guide us and tried to keep it fairly general. We can handle oil, metals, gas, and power as well as other commodities. Half the team came from one of the industry’s better-known power companies while the remainder came with oil, metals, and coal expertise,” he said.
Currently, Topaz is looking to hire additional staff and move more into sales and marketing mode. “We have done the battle testing and maturing of the product at two customers, and now move into go to market mode,” he told me. We will soon be getting an additional briefing and demonstration of the solution and will report further at that time.