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Flash Boys exchange owner targets developer community with new cloud venture

The owner of Wall Street's upstart stock exchange is breaking into the cloud business with a new technology platform designed to lower the walls that have historically shielded high-grade financial data from the broader masses.

Created by IEX Group Inc., IEX Cloud provides users with financial data points and aggregated news stories that the company says can then be used to "build, launch and scale their models, products and businesses" through its application programming interface. The venture marks a technology push from IEX Group that reaches beyond its core exchange business, a separate entity from IEX Cloud that served as the focus of Michael Lewis' 2014 best-seller Flash Boys and continues to wrestle with Wall Street institutions such as the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Inc. for market share.

"With IEX Cloud, we're expanding to serve everyone from students and researchers to web developers and business leaders and empowering them to learn and innovate through affordable access to financial data, including IEX's exchange market data, which will be redistributed free of charge," IEX Group co-Founder and CEO Brad Katsuyama said in a statement.

The offering, launched in beta earlier in 2019, has built a user base of nearly 10,000 organizations and individuals. IEX's cloud platform is specifically targeted for the likes of financial technology companies, developers, researchers and students. IEX Cloud advertises four different pricing plans on its website that range from a free plan to a $499-per-month plan with annual billing.

By aggregating information on stocks, Treasurys, currencies and other asset classes, IEX Cloud has created a centralized hub that eliminates the need for its users to rely on multiple costly sources for different information, said David McDonough, founder and CEO of Commonstock, an online investment club that started implementing IEX Cloud roughly two months ago. That breadth of services, McDonough said, has allowed Commonstock to shift its focus more from the back-end of its product to the user experience while also cutting its expenses on the "cobbled-together" variety of sources his company used to rely on for data.

"That's a pretty revolutionary concept, where they have the data, the marketplace and the ability to develop functionality on top of both of those," McDonough said in an interview. "The potential for what we can do on top of IEX Cloud is pretty remarkable."