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Inside the Nondescript Building Where Trillions Trade Each Day

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Inside the Nondescript Building Where Trillions Trade Each Day

Six miles northwest of the New York Stock Exchange as the microwave flies, across the Hudson River and within earshot of Interstate 95, is a building with no name. Only three numbers mark its address, and, like much of its surroundings, it’s nondescript, encircled by windblown trash and lonely semitrailers waiting to be hauled away somewhere. It’s a part of New Jersey that’s, well, ugly.

It’s also a critical node in the U.S. financial system: The 49 different exchanges that lease space at this data center sent a record 9.6 million messages per second through its fiber-optic cables in February. Every day, electronic trades representing trillions of dollars’ worth of equities, derivatives, currencies, and fixed-income assets pass under this roof. This is NY4. This is where Wall Street actually transacts.

It’s just one of the crown jewels of Equinix, the $22.7 billion company that’s quietly grown into the world’s largest owner of interconnected data centers. To give you an idea of Equinix’s lead in the space, you would have to add up the market value of its five closest U.S. competitors to roughly equal its market cap, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Equinix pitches its centers as more than just storage space for servers. Its clients pay in part because of who else is there. That includes the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Direct Edge, ICAP, Nasdaq, the NYSE, and Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. IEX Group, the firm that starred in Michael Lewis’s 2014 book Flash Boys, stashes a key piece of its hardware in one of Equinix’s New Jersey data centers: a coil of fiber-optic cable that slows orders down by a fraction of a second. And those firms are just from the handful of financial industry customers Equinix discloses. It connects more than 6,300 businesses to their customers, and most of those firms don’t want it known that they lease one of NY4’s metal cages, which are identified only by numbers, not names.

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