It is not clear how Yahoo took the industry by storm, but Grabinski was part of the first wave of oil traders to use Yahoo instant messaging, having opened his account just a year after it was launched. BP was an early adopter of the technology, and several traders said their use of Yahoo helped spur the industry forward, even though Yahoo never actively encouraged the trading community to use its service.Grabinski – now a senior crude trader at Italian oil company Eni Trading & Shipping – decided on Yahoo because it was newer than AOL’s AIM chat, already used by his counterparts in power and natural gas trading. He set up a computer screen between himself and the only other domestic, physical-focused trader at the shop. Using his account, they communicated with the rest of the market. Slowly, its use became more widespread. Today, everyone from oil traders to hedge fund managers, pipeline schedulers, brokers, refinery buyers and even ship brokers uses the chat system globally. “There’s a lot of back and forth, asking other people ‘What are you seeing? What are you hearing?'” said Tariq Zahir, an investment manager at Tyche Capital Advisors.
Future chat options
Oil companies are finding various solutions for communication going forward. Some large players, including Glencore Plc, have adopted Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s chat. ICE said last month that it has more than 10,000 active users for its messaging system, having grown by 15 percent since January. Other chat systems include Symphony, CME Group Inc’s Pivot chat, Bloomberg chat, and Thomson Reuters Messenger. Reuters News is a division of Thomson Reuters Corp. Some have also discussed more widely used mobile options like WhatsApp, Skype or WeChat, which is popular in Asia. Grabinski said the transition to a new system should not be a problem. “Change is part of it, and you kind of just move on,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that hard. You just type into a little box.”