Don Wilson

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Don Wilson
DRW headshot.png
Occupation CEO and Founder
Employer DRW
Location Chicago
Website www.drw.com

Don Wilson is the founder and chief executive officer of DRW, a Chicago-based proprietary trading firm with over 800 employees.[1][2]

He is also a co-founder and board member of Digital Asset Holdings and Eris Exchange.

Wilson was the founding chairman of the Principal Traders Group, an affiliate of the Futures Industry Association.[3][4] He was succeeded by Robert Creamer of Geneva Trading.

Background

Wilson was born in Washington DC and raised in St Louis. When he was 11 his family moved to Switzerland, where he developed an interest in sailing and in the financial markets.

He began his career with the Chicago-based firm LETCO in January 1989, after sending his resume to numerous Chicago-based firms. He spent two weeks over the summer watching traders at the firm before deciding to go into trading Eurodollar options on the CME trading floor through LETCO. In October 1989, he began working in the Eurodollar options pit with $100,000 in a futures account. During his early days in the trading pit, he would spend his days on the floor and his nights working on risk models and volatility curves on his Macintosh computer at his home. In his first weeks trading, a mini-crash occurred and he lost $35,000 in a single day. However, within three years, he was able to pay back LETCO's initial sum and went into business on his own.[5][6] [7]

In 1992, Wilson founded DRW, which initially consisted of him trading his own account in the Eurodollar options pit. "DRW" were his initials on his trading badge at the CME. In 1994, he moved to London and traded on LIFFE.

In 1996, he returned to Chicago and over the next 20 years, grew DRW into a successful proprietary trading and market making firm with more than 800 employees and offices in Chicago, Austin, Houston, London, Montreal, New York and Singapore. DRW diversified into a number of different financial instruments and asset classes under his direction. [8] [9]

He also serves on the board of Digital Asset Holdings, Eris Exchange and Green Key Technologies.

He served as an associate member director of the Futures Industry Association (FIA) from 2010 to 2013.[10]

CFTC Lawsuit

In 2013, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused Wilson and DRW of manipulating interest-rate swap futures in 2011 and illegally earning $20 million. Wilson said he was simply buying an asset ahead of the market recognizing its true value, similar to a trade he encountered earlier in his career.[11] Wilson decided not to settle, putting the CFTC into the unusual position of taking a market-manipulation case to trial.

In September of 2016, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the CFTC needed to show that a DRW trader intended to create an “artificial” price in order to prove attempted market manipulation. The CFTC had tried to lower the bar by saying it needed to show only that the trader had an intent to affect market prices.[12]

The case went to trial in December 2016 before the Honorable Richard J. Sullivan in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Court’s decision is pending.

Work with Digital Asset Holdings

Wilson currently serves as a director for Digital Asset Holdings, a firm which he founded along with Sunil Hirani in 2014. In deciding that the most interesting part of Bitcoin was the blockchain and distributed ledger, Wilson launched a company that focused on leveraging the blockchain and other distributed databases to make the settlement of financial instruments more efficient. Through DRW, Digital Asset was formed, and the company was seed funded, with the first two employees of the company coming from DRW itself. After the introduction of Blythe Masters as CEO, Wilson remained on the board of directors, but stepped down his level of involvement in the company. [13][14][15][16]

Work in Real Estate

Through DRW, Wilson has also founded Convexity Properties, a real estate management firm that specializing in restoring old and historical properties. He initially founded the firm as a subsidiary of DRW in 2009, and focused on buying high end buildings that were cheap as a result of the recession. Since then, the company has purchased a number of older properties around Chicago, and has converted them into high-end apartments and hotels.[17][18][19][20]

Outside interests and philanthropy

Outside of DRW, Wilson is a board member of a number of companies, including the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation.

In November 2008, Wilson was an honorary committee member of the FIA Futures Cares Charity Dinner where over $300K was raised in support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. He served on a global markets advisory committee for the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.[21][22][23]

An avid sailor, he is a founder of the Chicago Match Race Center.[24] He is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club.[25][26][27][28]

In 2012, through the DRW Trading Group Foundation, he donated $2 million towards the takeover of a charter school on the west side of Chicago. The school was previously a failing, and was made part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which includes 16 high schools in Chicago's most disadvantaged communities. The school itself was renamed DRW College Prep, and has been open since August 2012.[29][30][31]

In 2013, he was named as a trustee of the University of Chicago.[32][33][34]

In 2016, he was chairman of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Chicago.

Education

Wilson graduated from the University of Chicago in 1988 with an Economics degree, after just over two years in university.

Video

MarketsWiki Education Video, 2014

Don Wilson, CEO of DRW, gives his story of how he found his way into the financial industry, starting with his realization that he enjoyed mathematics and then discovering how to connect it with trading currency futures. Having no connections to the financial industry, Wilson was persistent in sending his resume out to firms until finally landing a job where he started by observing traders on the trading floor. Wilson also discusses DRW, giving a brief history of the firm and its growth throughout the years, as well as giving insight on what he thinks the future holds for the financial industry. While regulatory change may seem to have created a burden on the industry, Wilson believes that there are still plenty of opportunities that can be created from new rule changes.

Registration Information

  • Don Wilson - NFA ID 0241382

References

  1. Don Wilson. DRW.
  2. The unnatural communicator. Financial Times.
  3. FIA Principal Traders Group. Futures Industry Association.
  4. FIA Principal Traders Group Hires Overdahl As Spokeman. Advanced Trading.
  5. Donald Wilson, DRW Trading Group - Reminiscences (and Prognostications) of a Futures Operator. MarketsWiki Education.
  6. Q&A with Don Wilson, Founder of DRW Trading Group. CMEGroup.
  7. Starting out in the financial markets. DRW.
  8. Evolving with the Eurodollar. CME Magazine.
  9. Three new members elected to University of Chicago Board of Trustees. University of Chicago.
  10. Board Members. Futures Industry Association.
  11. Manipulation or Brilliant Trade? The Curious Case of Don Wilson. Bloomberg.
  12. In Market-Manipulation Brawl, CFTC Loses Round One. The Wall Street Journal.
  13. Start-Up With Bitcoin in Its DNA Stumbles on Fund-Raising Trail. New York Times.
  14. Digital Asset Holdings Delivers First-Of-Its-Kind Technology to Bridge the Gap Between Crypto and Mainstream Assets. PRNewsWire.
  15. WIZARDS OF TODAY’S MARKETS: DON WILSON, DRW, PART 2. Trading Technologies.
  16. Company Overview of Digital Asset Holdings, LLC. Bloomberg.
  17. About Convexity Properties. Convexity Properties.
  18. Don Wilson sells Gold Coast Starbucks for $14 million. Chicago Real Estate Daily.
  19. Low-key Don Wilson emerges as leader in Chicago's secretive proprietary-trading sector. Chicago Real Estate Daily.
  20. Convexity Properties breaks ground on Gold Coast’s first new condo high-rise in seven years. REJournals.
  21. Global Markets Advisory Committee. CFTC.
  22. Separate Special Event—FIA Futures Cares Charity Dinner. Futures Industry Association.
  23. {Who We Are: Don. DRW.
  24. Wilson the Winner in Chicago. Chicago Match Race Center.
  25. {Convergence Wins 2014 Chicago Yacht Club Verve Cup, Named T10 North American Champion. Chicago Yacht Club.
  26. {Digital Asset Holdings Delivers First-Of-Its-Kind Technology to Bridge the Gap Between Crypto and Mainstream Assets. PRNewsWire.
  27. {Don Wilson Becomes Equity Owner, Joins GreenKey’s Advisory Board. Green Key Tech.
  28. {Manipulation or Brilliant Trade? The Curious Case of Don Wilson. Bloomberg.
  29. [marketvoicemag.org/?q=content/drw-college-prep Recognizing Those in Our Industry Who Give Back]. MarketVoice.
  30. DRW's Wilson charters new course with school. Chicago Business.
  31. The power of positive impact. DRW.
  32. Three new members elected to University of Chicago Board of Trustees. University of Chicago.
  33. Evolving with the Eurodollar. CME Magazine.
  34. Donald Wilson, DRW Trading Group - Reminiscences (and Prognostications) of a Futures Operator. MarketsWiki Education.
  35. Q&A with Don Wilson, Founder of DRW Trading Group. CME Group.