Happy 2019!

This time last year, Molecule had just moved into a new office, and our team was preparing for what promised to be another big year of company growth. 2018 did not fail to deliver. We did not fail to deliver. It’s always great to look back at the plans you had for a year and see how well you did. Here’s what we expected from 2018.

So what actually happened?

When 2018 began, we had been serving exchange-trading customers for several years, with some exposure to bilateral markets. Our team in Houston consisted of a handful of developers and a small support/implementation team.

In January, Paul Kaisharis joined our team as SVP Software Engineering. We also welcomed new hires to our dev and sales teams. Molecule now has a team of 16 – developers, project managers, implementation & support analysts, team leads, and more – supporting trading in bilateral crude, gas, chemicals, and electricity markets. Our deal volume has risen significantly, as has the diversity of our user count.

Our development team has stayed busy with many software updates, 24 in total. Here’s an overview of our software update process. We use this to push updates live approximately every two weeks -- with more stringent QA testing than typically seen in the industry.

  • Connectivity to multiple ISOs for downloading a variety of products
  • Custom fields on trades
  • The ability to use an IR curve to mark options
  • The ability to batch generate reports/invoices/etc.
  • A new P&L feature, currently in Beta, for YTD/MTD/QTD leg-level P&Ls
  • APIs for uploading trades, additional filters, and more
  • Improvements for bilateral trading, such as better options support, strike interpolation, and VaR
  • Lots of new FCM reconciliation functionality, including supporting new banks, multi-bank reconciliation, and the ability to generate trades from a statement
  • Many performance improvements, such as our “fast lane” for exchange-trading customers, UI-related performance improvements, and chunking for large uploads.

The team (primarily Sameer and Dustin) attended several conferences. You may have spotted them at E-World (Germany), Platts Digital Commodities Summit (US), ComRisk (UK), ETOT (UK), or FIA (US). Sameer spoke at several of them, and the team led workshops at ComRisk and ETOT -- all focused on risk management and the cloud.

In Q4, we launched a new logo and website. If you follow Molecule on LinkedIn, you may have noticed the animated version of our logo. Please follow the Molecule LinkedIn page for industry news, company announcements, and tech tips.

Throughout our changes over the past year, we’ve remained committed to our core values. To that end, we were proud to have signed the Amicus Brief fighting against prejudicial immigration policy. This policy issue is a critical one to Molecule and our customers, because diversity is simply a given in our industry — and it’s core to what we believe about America, our home. We took a stand because it’s that important to us, and we hope to see a change for the better in the years to come.

We’ve gotten lots of great feedback on our product, and our roadmap, as well – and 2019 has lots more to come. We’ve had/are having many conversations with customers about our roadmap, but here are some highlights:

  • A specific focus on boiling down common issues/requests – and fixing small usability issues, system-wide. First up are the Trade entry process and the Trades screen.
  • Finishing our v2 API – which should allow for much faster, more granular interactions with Molecule.
  • Reworking our Confirms workflow. We’ve received lots of feedback on our v1 features, and now have a good sense of what would work well for most companies.
  • Clearer, more flexible decomposition of spreads & swaps, and less-noisy support for hourly power.
  • Continuing work on our physical logistics features.

With that, we wish you and yours a happy, safe, healthy, and wonderful 2019!

P.S. By the way, another awesome highlight is that three(!!!) of us got engaged in 2018.

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.