This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an advertisement. Views expressed are those of the individuals and not necessarily the views of Thoma Bravo or its affiliates. Thoma Bravo funds generally hold interest in the companies discussed. This podcast should not be construed as an offer to solicit the purchase of any interest in Thoma Bravo fund.
AIR DATE: February 8, 2024
RUN TIME: 7:52
This podcast is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute an advertisement. Views expressed are those of the individuals and not necessarily the views of Thoma Bravo or its affiliates. Thoma Bravo funds generally hold interest in the companies discussed. This podcast should not be construed as an offer to solicit the purchase of any interest in any Thoma Bravo fund.
Hi, I'm Holden Spaht, Managing Partner at Thoma Bravo, and this is Beyond the Deal. A special bonus episode of Thoma Bravo's Behind the Deal. And I'm here with Adena Friedman, Chair and CEO of Nasdaq. Adena, I'm really excited for this chance to hear about your inspirations, your career and your life. If our viewers want to learn more about the origins of our partnership, they can listen to our full length episode on Behind the Deal. But now in case anyone is joining us for the first time, we'd like to hear a little bit more about your background at Nasdaq. You maybe uniquely been there for a very long time. Maybe describe your very first day at Nasdaq.
So it was back in June of 1993. I had just graduated from a Vanderbilt Business School and started at Nasdaq as an intern. And so I was asked to write product plans for the trading products division within Nasdaq. And of course having gone to business school, the management of Nasdaq assumed I knew exactly how to write a product plan. And so of course I walked in and said, "Hmm, I wonder how I should write a product plan." The internet really wasn't a thing back then. I went through my textbooks and I said, okay, let me make sure I'm organizing my product plans appropriately. So it was really fun though. It was a great instant education on trading and understanding how the markets work. I was really responsible for writing the product plans for some very esoteric trading products. So it forced me to get to know a lot of people inside of Nasdaq, understand the inner workings of the technology, and really start to embed myself in the team.
I also remember my own business school education being overvalued. I can relate. You had your whole career there except for a short stint in private equity where you were CFO of very iconic brand and private equity, The Carlyle Group. So how was that experience and what did you learn? How did it impact your leadership style and the way you view your current role?
When I went to Carlyle, it was really what I would describe as a unique opportunity. I was going to be able to work for, as you said, a truly iconic brand in the private equity space with great people. And I'd known some of those people just through my life there, as a CFO to help the company go public and wanted a great opportunity that is. So I chose to leave Nasdaq and take that opportunity and I was there for three years. We had a successful IPO and then I started getting calls from Nasdaq asking if I would want to come back as President. And it was a hard decision. But the fact is I love running businesses. I had been the leader of the data products division at Nasdaq for many years, and I love clients. I love driving a P&L. I like the pressure of it, I like taking risk and being a risk manager, but I really liked that kind of role.
So I decided to come back. But what was great about my time at Carlyle is that it was a very different culture. Nasdaq kind of grew up very much as a command and control culture, and Carlyle really grew up as this partnership collaborative culture. And so leaving Nasdaq, experiencing something very different did allow me to think about what do I want Nasdaq to be? What do I want my leadership style to be? And it did help me mature that style. So we kind of call it collaborative command, which means that we want everyone to bring their opinions to the table, but then once you make that decision, you all walk out of the room and you march down the road together.
That's fantastic. That is super relatable in terms of the types of leaders we like to work with. And based on my observations so far, through our conversations over the last six months and of course now being on the board, I think you have succeeded. What's something people don't know about Nasdaq that you wish they did?
I think that when we think about Nasdaq, I think naturally people know us for our markets and we are a 53-year-old great market operator in the United States, but today we are a scale technology provider to the entire financial system. And what we try to do is make sure we provide very modern solutions, technology solutions to help corporates navigate the markets, to help investors make asset allocation decisions and have investable products to help banks and brokers manage risk across the system and manage their lives in the markets, and then also provide technology to other markets. We underpin most of the markets in the world. So I think that that's where that role as a critical technology provider and partner to every element of the financial system is something that we want to help other people understand about us while we also are always investing in our markets themselves.
Four-leaf clover. You handed out a four-leaf clover when we signed the LOI in person, which was interesting. Tell me a little bit about that.
Well, when our kids were younger... So I have two children, two sons, 28 and 26, but when they were younger, they played baseball. And anyone who has been the parent of a baseball player knows you spend a lot of time in these fields and when you have a double header and your son might be a pitcher in one game and not play at all in the other game, you have eight hours of just hanging out in the grass. So one of the things that one of my friends said, "You know, Adena, if you look down, you might find some four-leaf clovers." And I said, "Huh, that's interesting." So I started looking for four-leaf clovers and it's like treasure hunting and it's pattern recognition and it's so fun. It's very zen. When I feel like I'm developing a connection with someone or we have something important to do together, I will sometimes give them a four-leaf clover.
Thank you. I'm so glad. I didn't want to ask what would've happened had you not found one. So I'm glad you found one, and I just want to say thank you for joining us. Thank you for your time. It's been an incredible conversation. I know we at Thoma Bravo, speaking on behalf of our whole firm, are so excited to be a part of this transformation that you've taken Nasdaq on and we're really excited for your leadership and you're the steward of a lot of our capital now. So we're highly invested in your success and thank you so much for the time.
Thank you very much, Holden. It's been great. Thanks.
The executives were not compensated in connection with their participation, although they generally received compensation in connection with their roles and in certain cases are also owners of Thoma Bravo portfolio company securities and or investors in Thoma Bravo funds, such compensation and investments subject participants to potential conflicts of interest.
Certain statements about Thoma Bravo made by portfolio company executives are intended to illustrate Thoma Bravo's business relationship with such persons rather than Thoma Bravo's capabilities or expertise with respect to investment advisory services. Portfolio company executives were not compensated in connection with their podcast participation, although they generally receive compensation and investment opportunities in connection with their portfolio company roles, and in certain cases are also owners of portfolio company securities and/or investors in Thoma Bravo funds. Such compensation and investments subject podcast participants to potential conflicts of interest.