Things Are Looking A Little Different Around Here

If you’ve been watching us, you’ll notice a few things have changed around our website. Specifically, we overhauled the information architecture to help users answers their questions about Molecule more quickly. Now, you’ll find specific use cases informed by how our customers use Molecule today, directly on the home page.

More work, however, was our long-developed update to our logo and branding! When we launched Molecule in 2012, we had literally no code and no customers, but a strong vision of where we wanted to go. Since then, the many users of our platform have expressed clear preferences of where Molecule should go next: physical logistics/scheduling, and easy connectivity with upstream and downstream systems.

Our new branding reflects this while keeping to our core mission of easily, reliably managing risk for commodities portfolios. To talk more about the concept, here’s our designer, Jay Jimenea:

Exchange, transfer, flow, connectedness. Those are some of the concepts we wanted to reflect in our new logo. Those concepts represent motion, and there’s a ton of motion in Molecule. So many trades flow through Molecule on a daily basis, and with physical logistics and scheduling on the horizon, even more data will flow through the application. In addition, Molecule is becoming increasingly interconnected with upstream and downstream enterprise systems via our APIs. We thought we should capture this in the logo. While the methane logo provided a nice chemical icon to represent commodities, it did not visually capture the activity that transpires within Molecule. At quick glance, that logo could represent a chemical engineering firm if not for the word “software.” So, how could we visually capture motion and other desired concepts while maintaining the characteristics we liked from the previous design?

We achieved motion by using a pair of red tracks to form the letter “M” in the negative space between them. The nodes on the tracks are intended to represent points similar to what you might see on routes in map applications, train routes, or circuits on a circuit board. Each node is either a start or an end point. This creates a bidirectional movement between the nodes, guiding the eye back and forth between them. There’s movement created when just looking at the “M.” The nodes are also not far in appearance from the atoms in the methane icon.

Molecule is a software company that prides itself on simplicity for our users. Molecule’s UI removes the extraneous so users can focus on what they care about without distraction. Just like our application, we felt that we could remove from the logo as well. The word “software” was something we could remove if tech was represented elsewhere. The absence of “software” streamlines the design by removing clutter, and the circuit-like appearance of the “M” icon is undeniably a technology statement. That attribute is more than sufficient in reflecting the tech space and, in turn, software.

Molecule is bold in its messaging and aspirations, yet sensitive to human factors in its usability. The acute angles and sharp points of the new icon reflect the bold and aggressive attitude of the company, while the rounded nodes reflect Molecule’s sensible side. The connected “M” and “O” in the typeface was something we did like about the prior logo. It was the one quality that reflected motion, so we wanted to keep that posture intact. Plus, this strengthens the connectedness concept. The same bold lines and sharp angles from the new icon are mirrored in the “M” to extend the attitude into the Gotham typeface. (Sameer likes to call this the Vampire M.) The stylized “O” looks like an eye with its hawkish brow, further complementing the bold stance.

Gotham has been Molecule’s selected typeface from the beginning, and it continues to be. The font will not change in the Molecule application, marketing materials, or website. Gotham Black’s thick lines and wide curves continue to accompany our bold messaging and sensible style all at the same time. We love it.

We also still love our methane icon. We love it so much that it has also been updated for continued use. The new icon takes on a more simplified look, with removed outlines and updated shaping. The outlines were often lost when seen at smaller dimensions, so in the spirit of simplifying, they were removed. The icon will not take center stage as it used to, but it will continue to be seen throughout Molecule’s visual marketing.

Every angle and edge in the new logo is intentional and sculpted to convey exactly what Molecule is. We hope you like it!"

We’re proud of where we’ve come as a company, and we’re proud of our new design. We would love to hear your feedback and thoughts about the new look and feel, so please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@molecule.io.

The Amicus Brief

This is a sad week for America.

Last year, Molecule proudly joined over 150 tech companies in filing an amicus brief against the executive order that essentially restricts immigration and travel along religious and ethnic lines. This issue hits at the heart of what Molecule, as a company, stands for and against. Protesting the Order demonstrates our commitment to doing right by our employees and our customers.

When we established our core values, we committed to embodying them and using them to guide our actions and decisions. The executive order flies in the face of several of our values. We don’t want to be one of those organizations that says they have values, but then does nothing with them except putting them on a website and handing out a poster to new employees (please note: our values are on our website, and you can read them here). Our core values mandate that we take action against the executive order.

Our team embraces diversity. This isn’t just a motherhood-and-apple-pie value for us. Diversity strengthens our product and our productivity -- thus strengthening the company’s bottom line. Through diverse experiences and points of view, we improve our UI/UX to make beautiful (and the best) software. It helps us spot creative solutions to difficult challenges.

We hire the best Molecules and strive to be world-class. We want to employ the absolute best, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, nation of origin, and several other factors. The executive order will restrict our ability to create the best software and deliver the best solutions to our customers.

Amazingly talented individuals make up the Molecule team, and our customers are incredibly smart. Our team is composed of people born in the US and in other countries. Some of us are immigrants, children of immigrants, and grandchildren of immigrants. Some of us are married to immigrants. The same is true for our customers. We defend their freedom to work to create the life they want.

Our employees, customers, and community should know that we will stand up for them. We remain committed to defending everyone’s right to “sit at the table” -- except those who flout the law and those who promote hate and fear.

Fighting immigration policy that discriminates along religious, ethnic, and other arbitrary lines is the f-ing right thing to do. Molecule is committed to doing the right thing, regardless of politics or popularity. We will continue to stand up for what’s right, for decency, and for tolerance.

Kicking off 2018

The first week of January is behind us, and like many of you, the end of the year/start of another year has us reviewing the progress we made and highlights we shared as a team in 2017. We are also looking at what is going to take us to the next level in 2018.

Here are some of the awesome things that happened by and to Molecule last year:

Dustin Whipple, our VP Sales, joined our company. He’s joined me on trips to Boston and Chicago (where we got to see BOB FREAKING WOODWARD speak!). We also worked ETOT together in London in November and led a workshop on cloud technology. If you haven’t met Dustin yet, you should email him at dustin@molecule.io.

At the end of the year, Molecule found a new home. We’re loving our new digs. And, not just because our new digs come with donuts. The new space will work well for us as we scale up our team.

Our developers and technical talent really help Molecule offer a powerful product in energy trading - and did they ever work hard last year! We rolled out new features like automating your VaR calculations and reconciliations, and we added business intelligence reports. To help our users get up and running with VaR, and to help the market broadly with thinking through how to automate VaR calculations, we hosted a webinar this summer with Dr. Ehud Ronn, a professor at the University of Texas. You can check out the webinar here.

Have I mentioned that we recently won two new clients direct from some of the biggest players in the industry? I’m pumped because (1) our team is awesome and they put their hearts and sweat into making our customers happy and (2) we’ve noticed a shift in the market. People are starting to recognize that cloud is better than on-prem technology for energy trading! Long may that trend continue.

So, what to expect in 2018?

At Molecule, our team will continue to grow with people who are awesome at what they do and fit with our core values.

We have a lot of new features on our roadmap that we will build and rollout. Expect Molecule to be a different beast in 2018. Rawr. It will be easy to argue that we should be a part of every future ETRM discussion.

We’ll also be checking out lots of industry conferences again - both in the US and overseas. So, be on the lookout for these guys:

ETOT2017

Looking more broadly at energy trading generally. Because the S&P 500 has grown so much, it is becoming an attractive market for investors. The barriers to entry for commodities is making it less attractive, so we think some funds will face this challenge in the coming year. We’re also expecting to see more market certainty, so there should be more stability in 2018.

We’d love to know what you’re expecting to see. Always feel free to get in touch and share your thoughts. You can head over to our LinkedIn page to connect with our team and other people who are passionate about energy trading, technology, and risk management.

On behalf of the Molecule team, have a great 2018! And don’t go on-prem...

HolidayParty2017

You Buy Now!!!

Are you weighing options for implementing a new risk management platform for your energy trading operations in 2018? You may be considering developing proprietary software or looking at options available on the market. This means you face the build vs buy dilemma.

You may quickly feel like you are comparing apples to oranges, but we are here to help you understand the tradeoffs between these two options and decide which is best choice for your company.

Here are the most important five questions to ask when deciding whether your firm should build a risk management platform (or spreadsheets) or buy an existing software platform.

What are your technical requirements: Do you want a lot of customization? Do you need 99.9999% uptime?

Do you use proprietary valuation calculations that are different than commonly used ones? (PS…. YOU DON’T.) Do you need or want extremely customized software that accommodates 100% of your deals? Do you expect your software to perform like it’s been lean/six sigma mega-optimized for efficiency?

Yes? Your two best options are to either build your own software platform or buy one of our legacy competitors. Then hire consultants. Then be prepared to spend millions (sometimes even billions -- you know who you are).

98% good enough? You have lots of great out-of-the-box options! These may run on Amazon Web Services or other true-cloud solutions, which is considered best-in-class technology.

How quickly do you want to use the software?

When it comes to the time required to implement a new software solution, not all solutions are created equal. You could be up and running within 90 days, or you might be looking at a process spanning several years. Eek!!

2 years from now would be fine. Building would work. Or working with those costly consultants that will help set you up with a legacy vendor.

ASAP with as few hiccups and headaches as possible? Buy! You could be enjoying your new risk management platform in as few as 90 days.

How much budget can you allocate to this project?

Traditional IT-thought suggests that buying software is cheaper than building your own. However, this is not true if you buy one of the large, legacy vendor’s solution. It is not cheaper. There are some infamous implementations that cost over $20 million. 20 million eeks!!

We have about $20 million to invest. Yup - build or buying a legacy option could be the way to go.

Why do we have to pay to get setup on software we’re buying? We agree. There is a strong off-the-shelf option for you.

How big is your company?

The size of your company influences how many deals you track and how many people need access to the system. This increases the complexity of what needs to be tracked and what functionality is “enough” for your team.

Giant - Build or buy...

A Giant in Spirit but not in Numbers - Buy!

Does your IT department have extensive experience managing large, custom software projects?

Yes? Then your team could potentially build this out for you.

No? Don’t risk bad software. Buy a great option.

But, don’t buy legacy…

Honestly, if you decide that buying is the right path for you, don’t buy a legacy software product. You’ll end up hiring consultants anyway. Implementing their product, which inevitably will not meet 100% of your needs will cost just as much and take just as long (if not cost more and take longer) than simply building the perfect solution for your own organization. If you’re as unique as a snowflake and need a solution that reflects that, go be a snowflake and build your snowflake software.

Did you find out that you fall on the buying end of the spectrum? Get in touch with our team to discuss what options are available and would be best for your company.

Spreadsheets vs. Software

Having an unhealthy love for Excel seems to be a prerequisite to get into business school (Go Blue!). However, I am a technologist first and MBA second. That means that as much as I stand in awe of impressive Excel spreadsheets and the odd pivot table, I love good software more.

Since launching Molecule, we’ve seen some “creative” Excel work by impressive quantitative minds. However, our clients have basically been held to ransom by spreadsheets that only quants could use and manage. Or worse (and more common), trade books have been handled by individual traders in silos.

When you’re working on a team, transparency is important. Everyone at the fund should have confidence that the numbers on their screens – like positions – are accurate. In a spreadsheet, dissecting complex formulas is a headache. Manual data entry is error-prone.

Even worse – we’ve seen funds using incorrect risk calculations for years because of a small error in a spreadsheet. Obviously, the risk that something goes wrong with your spreadsheets increases as the number of traders goes up.

I think that spreadsheets can work for new funds with a trader or two, but there is a breaking point. Here are some signs that you’ve outgrown spreadsheets:

  • You have to keep someone on your payroll just because they’re the only one who can manage your data and reporting.
  • You’re always yelling across the room, “Resave the spreadsheet!”
  • You’re not 100% sure that your numbers are correct, but in your head you have a sense of the risk of the organization.
  • You’ve realized that software offers a much better way to manage your business.

I typically see this transition point happen around the time a company adds a third trader, or reaches $10m in AUM.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, and you’re ready to explore software options, take a look at our recommendations for running (or not running) a risk system RFP.

Of course, we’re also happy to talk to you about your process and software options. Feel free to email us at info@molecule.io. Having a weird love for software may seem like a prerequisite to email us, but it’s not! You’ll be in a much better place when you know the numbers on your screen are right.