Jeff Sprecher is Founder, Chair and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE) and a pioneer of digital networks and the electronification of trading and marketplaces.
Reflecting Sprecher’s vision and leadership, ICE, co-headquartered in Atlanta and New York, has grown from a startup in in 2000, purely focused on making energy trading transparent, to a diversified, subscription-driven Fortune 500 company with nearly 10,000 employees. ICE operates exchanges and clearinghouses around the world, provides market-leading solutions in fixed income and data services, and is transforming the mortgage industry by digitizing the end-to-end process of buying a home. Now in its third decade, the company that Sprecher and his team have built, through organic growth and acquisitions, delivers over $6 billion in annual revenue with market capitalization of over $75 billion.
It started with an entrepreneur’s dream and $1,000. That’s what Sprecher paid to buy the struggling Continental Power Exchange in 1997, in addition to assuming the company’s outstanding debt.
Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, educated as a chemical engineer at the University of Wisconsin and an MBA at Pepperdine, Sprecher learned early on in his parents’ garage how to break down systems to their component parts and rebuild them better, faster, and more resilient. It started with a toaster oven at age six, advanced to a Toyota and, decades later, expanded to global asset exchanges.
Sprecher began on a shoestring by spotting inefficiencies in the power market and resolving to fix them. Tirelessly enlisting major banks, energy companies, and utilities to his cause, Intercontinental Exchange was born, eventually going public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 under the ticker symbol ICE. From its humble beginnings, a string of innovations and acquisitions quickly followed, beginning with buying the International Petroleum Exchange in 2001, the New York Board of Trade in 2007, Creditex in 2008, the Clearing Corporation in 2009 the Climate Exchange in 2010 and the NYSE itself in 2013. Sprecher became Chair of the NYSE following ICE’s acquisition, overseeing a complete overhaul of the Exchange, serving in that role for eight years through 2021.
The deals Sprecher put together created what are now known as ICE Futures Europe, ICE Clear Europe, ICE Futures U.S., and ICE Clear U.S., and led to a top-to-bottom reimagination and expansion of the NYSE, now known as NYSE Group. But exchanges and clearinghouses are only part of the ICE story. ICE’s major acquisition of Interactive Data Corporation in 2015 and a string of deals in the mortgage space, culminating in its purchase of Elle Mae in 2020, have coalesced into two other business segments -- ICE Fixed Income and Data Services, and ICE Mortgage Technology -- together forming today’s company.
Along the way, as the world evolves toward a more digital, efficient, and green future, ICE continues to innovate under Sprecher’s leadership. The company, formed with a simple idea and small check, now helps in myriad ways to drive transparency in trading, clearing, capital formation and risk management; it advances technology through its high quality and market leading data and solutions; and now it makes the dream of home ownership easier and less expensive for millions by digitizing the mortgage process.
Sprecher is often credited with “seeing around corners” in the intersecting world of finance and technology. These days, amid the energy transition, that trait is underscored by his anticipation years ago of the globalization of natural gas and demand for carbon-offset trading. Similarly, Sprecher’s launch of Bakkt in 2018 foresaw expanded adoption of bitcoin and digital assets. In reality, seeing around corners is a theme woven throughout Sprecher’s more than 20 years of creating, leading, and growing ICE. For that, and for delivering to ICE shareholders a consistent compound annual growth rate of 17% over the span of 2006 to 2021, Sprecher has been hailed as one of Barron’s “World’s Best CEOs” for six consecutive years, among a host of other honors and awards for his leadership and philanthropy.