In December 2012, Atlanta-based CEO Jeff Sprecher embarked on a corporate adventure that would capture the attention of the international financial world: The purchase NYSE Euronext, which includes the New York Stock Exchange.
Before the big NYSE news, Sprecher, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1978, had been steadily cultivating more than a decade of success as founder, chairman and CEO of IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) of Atlanta, a global operator of derivatives exchanges and clearing houses. Beginning in 2000, he transformed ICE from a focus on energy markets into a broad range of traded asset classes, including agriculture, credit derivatives, emissions, equity indexes and foreign exchange. ICE went public in 2005, listing its stock on the NYSE. By 2010, Forbes magazine had named ICE the nation’s fastest-growing financial services company.
But Sprecher’s latest acquisition will merge the Internet-based cutting edge of ICE with the time-honored, people-driven clamor of the NYSE trading floor. In an era of “flash crashes” and other challenges related to unfettered computer-generated trading, Sprecher hopes to provide a fresh perspective on market structure challenges and is leveraging the acquisition to promote the dialogue on these issues.
A Madison native, Sprecher graduated from UW-Madison in 1978 and began his engineering career with industrial company Trane in La Crosse and in southern California, while also working nights and weekends to earn his MBA from Pepperdine University. In 1984, Sprecher began his entrepreneurial quest as a partner in Western Power Group, a developer, owner and operator of large power plants in Newport Beach, California. Sprecher purchased the Atlanta-based Continental Power Exchange in 1997, which he would ultimately transform into ICE in 2000.
His leadership of ICE has earned him many accolades, including finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year program (2002) and finalist in the “MarketWatch CEO of the Year” award (2006). That same year, The Wall Street Journal recognized ICE’s stock as the top one-year performer.
Sprecher serves on several boards, including the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Global Market Advisory Committee and the Energy Security Leadership Council.
Sprecher and his wife, Kelly Loeffler, are highly active in the Atlanta community. Loeffler is an accomplished executive as vice president of corporate affairs at ICE, and as co-owner and co-chairman of the WNBA Atlanta Dream, the first women-owned professional sports team in Atlanta.