Chicago fintech startup Seed Futures said it sold itself to Dough, another trading industry company in the city.
But that’s about all either company is disclosing about the transaction.
The sale was announced in a statement today by Seed Futures, founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs Brian Liston and Edward Woodford. The two had plans to win federal approval to trade futures contracts on exotic commodities like industrial hemp, and the startup was presumably involved, but hadn’t launched yet. Liston declined to say what the unit did.
Dough, led by Thinkorswim co-founder Tom Sosnoff, didn’t announce the acquisition, and Sosnoff was cryptic in explaining the deal. “It’s something we don’t want to discuss yet,” he said in an interview. He also declined to say how much Dough paid for the research and technology intellectual property that was acquired. “We purchased a lot of know-how.”
Sosnoff made his fortune with the $606 million sale of Thinkorswim to TD Ameritrade in 2009. He later founded the Tastytrade media network and its parent company, Dough, as well as Chicago broker Tastyworks earlier this year.
The Seed Futures transaction also includes a limited consulting agreement with Liston and Woodford, Sosnoff said. Part of the reason Sosnoff said he didn’t want to discuss the latest transaction was to protect a business idea Dough has related to the acquisition that he expects to openly pursue next year. “We spent a lot of money to protect this idea,” he explained.
Presumably, that means Liston and Woodford, two MIT graduates from Europe, and their shareholders are a bit richer as a result. Woodford also declined to discuss details of the transaction, but said he and Liston continue to lead Chicago-based Seed CX, the former parent of Seed Futures. They also continue to head another Seed CX unit, Seed SEF, which last year received Commodity Futures Trading Commission approval as a swaps execution facility.
Seed CX and Seed SEF will continue with a “vision to be the center of emerging and alternative commodity trading,” Woodford said in the statement.
Nonetheless, Woodford declined to disclose a launch date for Seed SEF, expected to trade everything from industrial hemp to Hass avocados to Persian limes.