#DigitalSkeptic: NYSE Was Just Another Digital Business

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Duncan Niederauer may be schmoozing with the global financial elite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But what the man really wants to talk about these days is what it takes to survive the digital economy.

"I will be in the job for one year as the head of the NYSE and the president at ICE," said the former chief executive of NYSE Euronext, who last year sold the New York Stock Exchange to Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Group. "I would like just one of you journalists to write an article that says it's a positive thing to have kept the NYSE alive and thriving with only 700 people instead of the 5,000 that we used to have."

When Niederauer first laid down his "less is more" argument as part of an invitation-only event hosted by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (of which I am a board member), my first reaction was as you might expect: Here's yet another digital-age CEO justifying his eight-figure salary by making sure it's the little guy who gets restructured, not him.

But, wouldn't you know it, when I actually peeked underneath the NYSE's hood and studied how the Big Board restructured itself from the bloated Richard Grasso $140 million golden parachute era, I realized Niederauer had a point. This Long Island kid who went on to become a partner at Goldman Sachs had effectively adapted his legacy exchange for the declining Digital Age. And how he did it is worth a serious look for anybody running or investing in any sort of digital information company, be it in music, publishing, moviemaking or even corporate information systems.

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