|United States Secretary of the Army
|Born||1956 (age 60–61)
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Education||United States Military Academy (BS)
New York Law School (JD)
|Net worth||$1.78 billion (December 2016)|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Unit||101st Airborne Division|
Vincent Viola (born 1956) is an American billionaire businessman, philanthropist, U.S. Army veteran, and the nominee for United States Secretary of the Army. He is the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), and the founder and chairman of Virtu Financial. Viola is the owner of the Florida Panthers, a National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.
Early life, education and military service
Viola was born in 1956 to an Italian American family in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, the son of Virginia (Torre) and John A. Viola. His father, an immigrant from Italy, worked as a truck driver, after serving in the U.S. Army in the European theater of WWII. His father’s Army service made a significant impression on Viola as a youth. Upon graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School, Viola attended the United States Military Academy. At West Point, Viola played on the sprint football team and was cadet company commander for Company A-4 his senior year.
Viola graduated with a bachelor's degree from the United States Military Academy in 1977 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After graduating from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Ranger School, he served with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell for several years. He received his juris doctor degree from New York Law School, but did not complete the bar exam.
Viola began his business career as a trader in the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) in 1982, raising $10,000 to purchase a seat on the exchange. He helped build the NYMEX while he served on the board of directors, as chairman of the Technology Committee, the Natural Gas Advisory Committee and the Facilities Committee, co-chairman of the Options Committee, vice chairman of NYMEX from 1993 to 1996 and chairman from March 2001 to March 2004. Prior to and following the Gulf War, Viola earned millions of dollars betting on oil prices.
Viola has launched a number of businesses during his career. In 1987, he founded Pioneer Futures, one of the top fifty futures commission merchants in the US. In 1988, he founded The Independent Bank Group, a Texas-based regional bank which is listed on NASDAQ (IBTX). Viola was also one of the two partners who launched EWT, LLC and Madison Tyler, LLC, two electric trading firms formerly based in Beverly Hills, CA and was able to use the electronic trading technique to his own personal gain making him one of the richest men in the world. In 2008, Viola founded Virtu Financial, active in electronic market making. Viola took Virtu Financial public in April 2015, trading as a NASDAQ listed company (VIRT).
Leah McGrath Goodman's 2011 book, The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market, describes Viola and his temperament. Goodman wrote Viola "had a nasty temper, but [predecessor chairman Lou] Guttman says he didn’t lose control of his emotions easily" and that "beneath the spit and polish he was still a tough guy from Brooklyn." In the book, Lou Guttman, the previous chairman at the New York Mercantile Exchange, said Viola "exuded leadership. His personality was amazing. He drew people in. He was a phenomenal speaker. Even if he didn’t know what he was talking about, he sounded like he knew what he was saying. He was an astute businessman and an extreme opportunist."
As of December 2016, Viola had a net worth of $1.78 billion.
Nomination for Secretary of the Army
On December 19, 2016, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Viola for the position of Secretary of the Army. The choice was reported to be concerning to the nominated Secretary of Defense General James Mattis, who was reportedly not informed of the choice prior to the announcement, a position he would directly oversee, and was concerned about potential trading practices which were not yet fully investigated.
Viola has been a philanthropist in the areas of education, national security, and faith. After the 9/11 attacks, he founded the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Viola has created a technology company, Rowan Technology Solutions, to support cadet education in the areas of military history, military science, and leadership. He has also been instrumental in supporting the Army Cyber Institute, the Modern War Institute, and Army athletics. Viola has endowed the Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Chair in Catholic Theology at Fordham University.
- "Vincent Viola". Forbes. Retrieved September 8, 2015.
- Peterson-Withorn, Chase (19 December 2016). "Five Things To Know About Vincent Viola, Trump's Billionaire Pick For Army Secretary". Forbes. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
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- "Vincent Viola Becomes Owner Of The Florida Panthers" (Press release). Florida Panthers. September 27, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
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- Osipovich, Alexander; Paletta, Damian; Hope, Bradley (December 19, 2016). "Donald Trump Selects Trading Firm Founder Vincent Viola as Army Secretary". Wall Street Journal.
- "USMA Class of 1977: The Honor Scandal and Beyond". West Point Center for Oral History. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
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- "Landslide Choice for Worst Law School". Above the Law. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- "Nine Law Schools to Avoid". The Careerist. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- Vincent J. Viola. "Vincent J. Viola: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- Matthew Leising (August 11, 2016). "Virtu Never Loses (Well, Almost Never) in Quest to Upend Markets". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Virtu Financial Announces Pricing of Initial Public Offering (NASDAQ:VIRT)". Ir.virtu.com. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- Jackson, Barry; Richards, George (September 19, 2013). "New York businessman leading group purchasing Florida Panthers". Miami Herald. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
- Herb, Jeremy; Temple-West, Patrick (December 19, 2016). "Trump picks businessman Viola as Army secretary". Politico. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
- Starr, Barbara (January 7, 2017). "Mattis, Trump team clashed over Pentagon appointment". CNN. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
- "Vincent Viola". Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. March 28, 2011. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- Kramer, Katie (November 9, 2014). "How West Point is becoming a proving ground for technology". CNBC. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Army Cyber Institute - Advisory_Board". Westpoint.edu. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- "Chair Honors a Theological Giant". Fordham University. February 2, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2016.
- David, Mark (December 16, 2013). "Epic and Epically Opulent Manhattan Townhouse Listed for $114+ Million". Variety. Retrieved December 19, 2016.