May 17, 2012

As someone who receives and voraciously reads research reports from various types of firms, one can understand the pains that firms take to protect their intellectual property. Why would anyone want their research on trading systems or equity market structure to be freely circulated around the planet when it is meant for clients that subscribe or pay with their order flow?

But I’ve experienced some really clunky content protection systems that are so ironclad you would need a crowbar to pry off the lock, and they may discourage reporters and clients from reading these reports.

As a consumer of content, I am frustrated to find when a firm’s document management system doesn’t work on a Mac, or that I have to download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat or I have to install some obscure code to unlock the PDF on a Mac. After a certain number of attempts, I simply give up!

And, if I am frustrated when I am not able to open a report within microseconds, imagine how a Wall Street client feels. Recently, Rosenblatt Securities, known for its market structure analysis of exchanges and dark pools, switched to WatchDox, for distributing its Let There Be Light research reports. Previously I had trouble opening the firm’s reports on my Mac laptop, but when I received permission to view the documents with WatchDox, it was extremely user friendly. It was so friendly that it seemed insecure and that’s the power of WatchDox.

On its web site, WatchDox is described as a highly secured cloud-based service for protecting, controlling and tracking sensitive documents. It allows organizations to access, share and control sensitive data,

Coincidentally, I recently discovered that Blackstone Group, a leading investment and advisory firm known for its work in private equity and alternative investments, also uses WatchDox for securing investor documents as well as other purposes.

About a year and a half ago, Blackstone looked into setting up its own portal to secure and send documents back and forth with its investors. Blackstone used Intralinks, as their document management system, but was looking for something different. At the time, Watchdox was in its complete infancy, notes Bill Murphy, Blackstone’s chief technology officer. Blackstone started a process of working with the tech firm and investing in them as well. Today, Blackstone uses WatchDox in two ways: First, investors use it to download their K1 tax documents and capital account documents and those are secure with Watchdox, explains Murphy. While that was a special purpose use case, Blackstone has found the technology is applicable for a number of different external use cases, including board of director communications, financial reporting dashboards on a weekly basis, and communications with external legal counsels.