Here, help arrived

By Edward Cone Print this article Print

Cantor Fitzgerald and its electronic trading subsidiary eSpeed lost 700 employees, including 180 members of technology staff. The response of those still on the job: Restore service to customers in less than two days.


Here, help arrived in the form of one of eSpeed's competitors. ICI/ADP, another electronic trading company, offered to take care of eSpeed's clearing and settling of transactions through its own connection to banks. By Wednesday night, the eSpeed team had mapped its financial back-office system to ADP's system, and had successfully sent test transactions to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and other banks.

The cooperation of other companies, including vendors and fellow financial firms, turned out to be key to Cantor/ eSpeed's quick recovery. ADP got the back-office component hooked up overnight, Compaq delivered 100 desktop computers at 2 a.m. on Wednesday and Verizon expedited the installation of voice lines and the transfer of some of eSpeed's digital circuits. Cisco provided a phone system based on Internet protocols, in a hurry. Microsoft had an NT team continuously on hand, as eSpeed's server and desktop maintenance group had been especially hard-hit. Meanwhile, UBS PaineWebber provided temporary office space in Manhattan. When units for running tape backups were in short supply, Claus was able to borrow one from a friend at another company by driving to his office at 11 p.m.

Trading in eSpeed stock resumed the first week of October. Shares, which had closed at $8.69 on Sept. 10, closed at $5.91 on Oct. 5. The firm was weakened by the loss of so many people and the related shutdown of its voice-broker business.

But it survived as a viable business. Thanks to planning, the company can keep operating, even if something should happen to Rochelle Park. Its data center in London will serve as the mirror site going forward.

And going forward, the company's systems should be even more resilient. "We are learning a lot of lessons as we are restoring the system," says Noviello, including how to automate more aspects of bringing systems back up. "And we are not restoring our bad habits."

This article was originally published on 2001-10-29
Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular EdCone.com weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.
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