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We've Closed Our Series A

I am excited to announce that Molecule has just closed a $12M Series A, and plan to use the investment to make Molecule even better.

We’ve come a long way since our founding in 2012. We’ve added support for many commodities, deal types, and geographies. Along the way, we’ve grown faster and leaner than many of the companies that came before us, added dozens of customers to our portfolio, and in late 2020, were named the #1 SaaS vendor in the ETRM/CTRM industry, full stop. Our goal is to become the #1 ETRM for electricity — and then the #1 ETRM vendor worldwide.

Last year, we noticed that over half of our customers trade power, and we doubled down with the launch of our Elektra power package to help accelerate the energy industry’s transition to electricity and renewables. This investment helps us do just that. With it, we plan to ramp up feature development, specifically in the following areas:

  • New features related to physical power and full-lifecycle renewable credits management
  • Enhanced back-office functionality, accounting, and settlements for all commodities, plus support for Counterparty contracts
  • Simplification and enhancement of Product and Counterparty management
  • New features focused on enterprise customers, like data warehousing and third-party audit certifications
  • Support for new deal types, commodities, and other securities

The investor group includes Mercury, a Houston-based early-stage venture capital firm that was an early believer in the Molecule team. We are grateful for their ongoing support as well as the support of our customers.

I can’t wait to show you what we cook up; our team is looking forward to making your work life even easier.

Features

Nuts & Volts: Podcast Launch

When I was new to the energy industry, I was fortunate to be part of one of Scott Haddix’s “Energy 101” talks — where he taught new hires about energy markets. Mad props, Scott. Those talks were legendary!

Fast forward 20 years, and I typically spend 3 afternoons with new Molecules (like our latest, Bruce Chung), in a conversational session, to give them a good foundational understanding of our industry. As it turns out, our friend Vivek Pathak does something similar at Broadpeak. Absent these training sessions, we’ve found pretty sparse, modern content about our industry.

So we decided to change that. With the help of podcast veteran Richard Reedstrom, we’ve launched a cross-company collaborative podcast about energy markets. It’s called “Nuts and Volts,” and the first episode drops today.

It’s not advertising. The point is to have a great time talking about modern energy markets, to inform, and to see if a podcast format makes sense for that.

Have a listen. Search for "Nuts & Volts" on Apple or Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or wherever you listen. Subscribe to make sure you don't miss a future episode. Comment on our LinkedIn posts, if you’d like. We’d love to know what you think!

Happy Holidays 🎉 & Molecule Updates

It’s the end of 2020 (finally), and at Molecule, we’re super proud of our product, team, and the damage we’ve done to the ETRM industry (#1 in cloud ETRM – w00t!).

Here are a few highlights of what we’ve done to our product this year:

Valuations Screen / Quickview

Tired of downloading spreadsheets to diagnose an issue? We were! We built a shiny new screen called Valuations to handle that. On Valuations, you can access all the data available on our Valuations API (i.e., via spreadsheet), and make saved, customized, pivotable views of your portfolio. Want to learn more, or get a preview? NOTE: You must have the “Positions” screen privilege in Molecule, to get access.

Valuations

For quick access to how a single trade has valued over time, you can now: 1) right-click on a trade on the new Trades screen, or 2) click “Show Valuations” while in the Trade Edit view. You can even download the data, to diagnose further. Easy!

Quick Access Valuations

2. More Secure Sign-On

Security is paramount at Molecule, and to that end we rolled out options for two-factor authentication (via a rotating code on users’ phones) and SAML login. This is a huge deal and we highly recommend at least turning on two-factor for your organization (at no extra cost).

SAML login is even better (as it connects to your organization’s single sign-on system), and is available on our Enterprise plan.

3. Physical Power Enhancements (Elektra)

An increasing percentage of our customers trade physical power – so we’ve made lots of enhancements to make your lives easier. We rolled out better hourly (even 1-minute) power support – so trades, market data, and positions can all share the same product codes and be grouped appropriately. Nearly all power customers have been moved over to this scheme.

We also announced that we’ll provide LMPs (and settled blocks) to physical power customers automatically in Molecule – to eliminate the mapping and data-wrangling exercise (and maintenance) otherwise needed to settle power trades. The first version of this is scheduled to roll out in January and we plan to gradually replace LMPs from all other sources (except those uploaded by users) in early 2021.

Our physical power improvements come under the new Elektra package and we hope to have much more to share on this next year.

4. Actualization

We saw a significant increase in physical non-power trading on our platform in 2020. To help with that, we rolled out a new, consolidated Actualization screen. It’s fast and easy and we are continuing to add new features to it based on feedback from customers.

Consolidated Actualization Screen

We have lots more features planned for next year, related to physical trading. These include contract management, limits, and GL account management. Please keep your eyes peeled!

5. P&Sing

Finally, in 2020 we rolled out a super-nerdy feature that, if you can get past its name, is super-important. For companies who trade on exchanges, we now support same-day + FIFO – based P&Sing.

What does this mean? It means that, if you’d like, we can flip a switch and close out exchange positions as they’re closed at your bank. Which, in turn, means, you can get a better breakdown of exchange-based realized and unrealized P&L. This can also dramatically reduce the number of lines on your valuation/P&L reports if your company does a lot of exchange trading.

We drop new features all the time, and we made lots of other important improvements to Molecule this year as well, including finalizing the new Trades screen (old one being retired in Q1), support for bilateral strips, support for several new FCMs, improved decay functionality (for intramonth/balmo valuations), and improved settlements functionality (so you can now mark and settle vs different products).

Thanks so much for being interested in our company, and/or using our product. We ❤️️ you, and we can’t wait to share many more new improvements with you in 2021!

SoftwareFeatures

The Molecule Ecosystem

The Molecule ecosystem is the foundation of the Molecule Commodity Trading and Risk Management (CTRM) System.

Our approach is simple... invest in available cloud-based technologies to provide a rich and robust infrastructure while focusing our internal resources on the core application.

In this blog post, I'll outline which cloud-based technologies we leverage and on which parts of the ecosystem we focus our internal resources.

What We Leverage

Within the Molecule ecosystem, we use multiple third-party services and technologies to provide the reliability, performance, and user experience our customers have come to expect of us.

Infrastructure, Networking, & Backend Services

The majority of our system components run on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS) leveraging AWS' shared responsibility model.

At the core of our infrastructure is Kubernetes, managed by AWS EKS.

We rely on Kubernetes to make sure our actual system state matches our desired state.

This ensures system reliability and enables horizontal scalability to manage the intermittent system loads we need to support.

At Molecule, we run two Kubernetes clusters, one for our primary application and a second to host our microservices ("m.functions").

Along with EKS, we also leverage AWS Relational Database Services (RDS) to host and manage our PostgreSQL instance and AWS Elasticache to host and manage our Redis instances.

Hosting these critical infrastructure and back-end services on a cloud provider like AWS allows us to easily scale up and out as necessary so we can manage any load that our customers throw at us.

We can also easily execute version upgrades to keep up with advances in these technologies.

Supporting Services

In addition to the infrastructure and backend services managed by AWS, we use a variety of supporting services and technologies that fall into the following categories:

  • Business Intelligence
  • Security & Authentication Services
  • Logging & Monitoring

Business Intelligence

Instead of rolling out our own business intelligence and reporting solution, we leverage Mode Analytics, which allows Molecule to white label and embed the reports and data analytics we provide customers.

Mode provides the technology and data security and Molecule can quickly provide the reports our customers need.

Security & Authentication Services

Security of our platform and of our customers' data is Molecule's highest priority.

At Molecule, security begins with code development; however, we leverage multiple third-party services to provide a comprehensive security layer - from infrastructure security to application security.

Starting with the infrastructure layer, we leverage AWS networking and security services to protect the infrastructure within which the Molecule application runs.

We use VPCs (Virtual Private Clouds) to ensure the application and data layers do not provide any unnecessary access.

Weekly infrastructure scans are executed by AWS Inspector and AWS GuardDuty is integrated into our DevOps workflow to notify us immediately of any detected threats.

At all layers of the application, we use a growing set of tools to provide functions like single sign-on (SSO), penetration testing, and dynamic security scanning.

Logging & Monitoring

Managing application logs and monitoring of the application itself is another important area of the Molecule ecosystem where we use third-party services.

For managing application logs and providing access to log data, we use Elasticsearch and Kibana both hosted by elastic.co.

Molecule strives to be aware of any issues impacting our customers before our customers are and before our customers' business operations are impacted.

To help us achieve this objective, we use multiple monitoring and alerting services provided by Grafana, Pingdom, and Honeybadger.

Each of these services is integrated into our DevOps worfklow, which uses Slack as our primary DevOps user interface.

What We Build

To complement the areas where we rely on third-party services, we focus our internal resources on the following:

  • User Experience
  • Business Rules
  • Integrations
  • Microservices
  • Molecule API

User Experience

A primary directive within Molecule is that we do not compromise on user experience or usability of the application.

To achieve this level of user experience excellence, we have our own visual designer on staff who knows how to make software developers look good.

Business Rules

At Molecule, our engineers follow the clean architecture patterns from Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin.

At the heart of the architecture are enterprise and application business rules, which are the brain power of the Molecule application.

Molecule engineers spend a good portion of their time in this area of the ecosystem.

Integrations

Another important objective at Molecule is to ease our users' lives by automating and streamlining as much of the trade capture and valuation process as we can.

To support this objective, we have developed a number of integrations with commodity exchanges (e.g. ICE and CME), ISOs (Independent Service Operators) through our relationship with Hartigen, market data providers (e.g. Morningstar), and FCMs (Futures Commission Merchant).

These integrations are a hybrid between third-party and internal focus since we use each provider's API.

Microservices

In a prior post, Introducing Molecule M.Functions, I covered how Molecule uses Istio and Knative to provide an infrastructure for developing and deploying microservices.

These support the Molecule application and provide add-on capabilities that we develop on behalf of customers.

Microservices have allowed us to expand our development capabilities beyond our core engineers.

Molecule API

In the past couple of years, we have invested time building out and documenting a V2 REST API to expose all of Molecule's capabilities to our customers through an easily consumable API.

Our API has been used to develop custom integrations to applications hosted and managed by our customers as well as to pull trade and valuation data into Excel.

At Molecule, we eat our own dog food and our V2 API is also used by the Molecule application to support our V2 React screens.

If you are an existing customer, feel free to reach out to Molecule at support@molecule.io to access the API docs and try the API for yourself.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully I've given you a glimpse into the rich ecosystem that makes up Molecule and into which areas of the Molecule CTRM system leverage cloud providers like AWS and third-party services and technology providers while internally we focus on our differentiators.

Software

Meet Elektra, Our New Power Markets Package

With dozens of instruments and shapes across 1000s of North American modes, power is one of the most gloriously complex markets for traders.

Molecule was born in power, and we're preparing to take our next step in modernizing power trading.

In 2021, we are introducing Elektra - a brand new power markets package.

As an add-on to Molecule, Elektra will help power producers and traders manage their complex portfolio of generation, fuel, and everything in between.

Elektra will offer ISO connectivity and a panoply of power-specific block conversions.

Stacking that on top of automated position and P&L in a cloud-based ETRM/CTRM platform built with great design as a core tenet, truly separates us from the competition.

Power traders require near real-time data as they hedge positions in both the real-time and day-ahead markets. So, we've partnered with NRGSTREAM to automatically pull power prices into Elektra.

It's the first time this has been done in the energy trading space, and will make our customers' lives even easier as we continue transitioning to the most important energy source for the 2020s.

We can't wait to demo Elektra to you and your team.