“The person running the business is critical to the running of the business,” says Williams.
In Platypus’ office overlooking Circular Quay, employees are casually dressed, many in jeans and T-shirts. Williams himself is without a tie, saying he put one in his bag but forgot to take it out.
“When I worked on the trading floor at CSFB, the proprietary desk wanted to come in jeans as they weren’t seeing anyone,” recalls Williams. “The head of the office said no as if he allowed the guys on the prop desk to do it everyone would want to do it. We dress appropriately for meetings.”
On the office walls are paintings, owned by Wright and Williams, including one of bits of paper alight, falling from the sky into a burning pit of coals somwehere in the Australian outback.
“It’s the losses in Australian stocks going up in smoke,” quips Williams.
He explains that investment decisions are made collegially, often after weekly meetings that last an hour.
Things have not always been so collegial. Philip Pepe, a former Platypus analyst, sued his one-time employer for $1 million, claiming it promised him an equity stake. A court found in favor of Platypus and Williams himself takes responsibility for hiring Pepe.
Platypus now with 13 personnel and Williams, 47, believes the company is still young. “The clock really started for us in 2006,” he says.
Williams has visions of managing $3 billion and offering another two investment products.
“We could triple in size as a firm with the same number of people,” he says.