Interactive Brokers (NASDAQ:IBKR) represents a HAL 9000 nightmare for traditional brokers. The firm's highly efficient electronic trading system is growing at hyperspeed. Last Friday, the company raised a cool $1.2 billion as investors piled into its IPO. (Fittingly, Interactive Brokers used WR Hambrecht's online auction system to carry out its offering.)

Hungarian-born founder Thomas Peterffy came to the U.S. in 1965 and started his career as a computer programmer. He had the visionary idea of applying his technical skills to Wall Street, and became a member of the American Stock Exchange in 1977.

Interactive Brokers' platform now processes trades for stocks, bonds, futures, and foreign exchanges. It promotes both increased liquidity and rock-bottom fees for institutional investors, financial advisors and brokers. Over the past year, Interactive Brokers' revenues surged 58% to $1.7 billion. Because of its low cost structure, the company posted a stunning net profit of $734 million -- about $1.45 million per employee.

The company faces serious competition from players like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), and Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER). Yet Interactive Brokers has serious advantages against these rivals; its platform is integrated with more than 60 exchanges, accounts for 15.9% of exchange-listed equity options volume worldwide, and handles real-time trading in 357,000 securities and derivatives products across the globe.

The company's valuation equals approximately 16 times EBITDA. While this may seem frothy, it's not unexpected in the heady securities-exchange space. Look at Deutsche Boerse's recent $2.8 billion bid for International Securities Exchange Holdings (NYSE:ISE), which works out to 28 times EBITDA.

On a relative basis, Interactive Brokers does look cheap. Individual investors should remember, though, that these kinds of stocks can be quite volatile, requiring a tough stomach for anyone who wants to hop onboard.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is ranked 1,695 out of 28,469 ranked investors in Motley Fool CAPS.