Joseph Sullivan III Helped Create Chicago Options Exchange

Former journalist sold Wall Street on a new market and wore down stiff opposition from the SEC

‘The CBOE’s creation has given me by far the greatest psychic satisfaction of my life,’ wrote Joseph Sullivan III, pictured in 1977.

Photo: Cboe Global Markets

The Chicago Board of Trade was in a slump in 1968 when Joseph Sullivan III joined as an assistant to the president. Worried about sluggish trading in grain futures, exchange officials wanted to diversify.

Mr. Sullivan, who was a Wall Street Journal reporter before moving to the Chicago exchange, was assigned to look into the feasibility of plywood futures. That idea flopped, but he embarked on a much more promising project: creating a new exchange to trade stock options, then an obscure corner of the financial markets.

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