December 11, 2010
Goldman Sachs’ high-frequency trading system generates millions of dollars in annual profits for the firm. Obtained in 1999 as part of Goldman’s $500 million acquisition of Hull Trading Company, the high-frequency trading system has since been modified and maintained, and Goldman Sachs took significant measures to protect the confidentiality of the system’s computer programs (including firewalls to limit access to the firm’s computer network, and limiting internal access to the high-frequency trading program). Several measures were taken to protect the system’s source code, including requiring all Goldman Sachs employees to agree to a confidentiality agreement.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
From May 2007 to June 2009, Sergey Aleynikov was employed at Goldman Sachs as a computer programmer responsible for developing computer programs supporting the firm’s high-frequency trading on various commodities and equities markets.
In April 2009, Aleynikov resigned from Goldman Sachs and accepted a job at Teza Technologies (“Teza”), a newly-formed company in Chicago, Illinois. Aleynikov was hired to develop Teza’s own version of a computer platform that would allow Teza to engage in high-frequency trading. Although Aleynikov tendered his resignation in April, it appears that he did not make that separation effective until the first week of June 2009.
Throughout his employment at Goldman Sachs, Aleynikov transferred (without Goldman Sachs’ authorization) thousands of computer code files related to the firm’s proprietary trading program from the firm’s computers to his home computers. He accomplished these transfers by e-mailing the code files from his Goldman Sachs e-mail account to his personal e-mail account, and storing versions of the code files on his home computers, laptop computer, a flash drive, and other storage devices.