- Thomson Reuters
Mehra “Cactus” Raazi, a well-known bond specialist, is setting up his own fintech startup.
Raazi is looking to launch Elefant Markets, a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based company, later this year.
Elefant, which describes itself as an “applied data science company focused on creating optimal, objective pricing,” will focus on trading odd lots in bonds.
Odd lots are trade sizes below $1 million.
Raazi is president at the firm, while Ehsan Yousefzadeh, a former Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas bond salesman, is its chief operating officer.
Raazi has had a varied career. He worked in advertising sales before joining Goldman Sachs and rising through the ranks there, eventually becoming cohead of European credit sales.
He won notoriety shortly after the financial crisis after a US Senate subcommittee probing the housing crisis released an internal Goldman Sachs email, “Cactus Delivers.”
The email was sent by Tom Montag, now chief operating officer with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, congratulating Raazi on selling subprime-backed debt.
Raazi then moved to Nomura, becoming global head of spread-product sales, and later joined Tradeweb as head of credit North America, where he was the frontman for a new electronic bond-trading system. He left that firm just over a year ago.
He joins a number of former Goldman Sachs traders and salespeople in turning to technology startups to try and transform bond trading.
Trumid, abond-trading startup staffed by a number of ex-Goldman Sachs salespeople, has raised money from venture capitalist Peter Thiel and legendary investor George Soros.Electronifie, another bond-trading startup, is led by Amar Kuchinad, a former trader at Goldman Sachs.
Grant Wilson, another former Goldman Sachs staffer, now works at Etrading Software, a consultancy that runs a bond network called Neptune.
All of these firms attempt in some way to facilitate trading in a corporate-bond market facing the challenge of reduced liquidity. Investment banks are less able to carry bonds on their balance sheets to make markets, while the number of bonds in existence has exploded. The fintech firms are looking to make trading easier.