2 major trends top investors and fintech entrepreneurs talked about at Stocktoberfest 2015

review of the 2015 stocktoberfest event with Howard Lindzon

It’s that time of year again: when scores of investors descend upon Coronado, a small town across San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego. It’s there, that for 2+ days, they’re treated to discussions by some of the smartest investors around. It’s Howard Lindzon‘s shindig and Stocktoberfest has become a must-attend event for traders, investors, and fintech entrepreneurs.

Howard’s activities as fintech angel investor (see his Social Leverage portfolio), entrepreneur (previous CEO of StockTwits, Wallstrip), and generally gregarious professional position him as an ideal connector for this event which essentially ran 2 tracks this year (or themes): the race to a $1 trillion marketcap for the largest tech firms and the social finance revolution. For startups, Stocktoberfest acts as a sort of launching pad, with a few of the firms presenting in front of a professional audience for the first time.

Marketplace lending is better

There were a few of themes coming out of Stocktoberfest that resonated with attendees (Lindzon himself wrote up his own 10 takeaways from Stocktoberfest 2015). The first was regarding the big changes facing banking.

With the growth in marketplace lending firms like Lending Club and Prosper, industry analysts think that it’s not only an inefficiency in the market that’s powering these firms, but marketplace lending is just better than traditional borrowing/lending.

According to Lindzon:

At Stocktoberfest, ApplePie Capital, PeerStreet and ProducePay received the most attention from friends in attendance. Hunger for yield matters.

Cost of information (nearly) free, but value going up

Many of the attendees to Stocktoberfest are in the investing content game themselves. They blog, podcast, and tweet about the markets. Some of these analysts, like Brian Lund, have extensive experience investing. Lund, who founded broker-dealer Ditto Trade in 2008, has been trading the markets for over 30 years and his opinion pieces are syndicated to Yahoo Finance, AOL’s DailyFinance, and About.com.

Lund observed that while the price of content is going down, the value continues to improve.

The days when you had to be an embedded analyst at a major Wall Street firm, or pay nosebleed subscription prices to get access to top shelf data and information are over.

Take, for example, Urban Carmel, who writes The Fat Pitch, was named after Pope Urban II by his papal loving parents, and sipped 18-year-old Scotch while Howard interviewed him.  His take on the market is informed, experienced, and insightful, and he gives it away for free.

Gregor Macdonald on energy. Dr. Brett Steenbarger and Chris Kimble on trading. Herb Greenberg and Eddy Elfenbein on markets.  These are just some of the great content providers who showed up at Stocktoberfest.

Just a few years ago, the Finovate series of events were pretty much the only game in town when it came to showcasing top talent and technology in the fintech space. Events like Stocktoberfest are becoming more common and provide a powerful sounding board for fintech startups to get up in front of a room full of prospective customers of their products. Now, it seems like almost every week new fintech accelerators, focused VC funds, and meetup groups are being launched.

Here’s a short video of Howard Lindzon and Jeff Macke talking about what they took away from Stocktoberfest 2015.

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StockTwits growing, hiring, and portalizing

Realtime platform for stock traders to share info, StockTwits has just hired David Putnam, previously head of 800lb gorilla that is Yahoo Finance.  Howard Lindzon’s firm continues to just chug along, growing traffic, rolling out products and now, recruiting seriously for growth.

According to TechCrunch:

According to Quantcast, 465,000 people are now visiting the site per month, which means the company has more than doubled its visitors since early December, when less than 200,000 were checking in to share and trade. This seems largely due to the service’s continuing evolution beyond its TweetDeck roots and creation of its own true investor ecosystem chalk full of video, news and charts — all enabled by an AIR app.

StockTwits has been pushing on a couple of fronts which should interest investors:

  1. investor relations: The firm is serious about attracting IR business, announcing the hiring of Chris Bullock as VP of Corporate Services.
  2. monetization engine: Watching the evolution of Seeking Alpha’s App Store closely, ST has rolled out its own marketplace for data products.
  3. portalize: This is something Putnam knows well from Yahoo but Yahoo made a massive site on curating essential information investors need.  ST is growing traffic by syndicating its own content.  Look for ST to become more of a destination site investor head to for more of the investment/research process.

Source:

StockTwits continues to expand, steals VP David Putnam from Yahoo Finance (TechCrunch)

10 predictions in online finance for 2010

I’ve been thinking about what the future has in store for investors and I’d like 2010to use this post to help clarify my thinking.   Essentially, I’d like to hone in on what 2010 portends for online finance.  I’m looking for some broader trends, as well as some company-specific prognostication.

  1. AOL’s ascension, Yahoo Finance’s continued domination, Google Finance tweaks:  Now that AOL has fully cut the cord from Time Warner after opening up the portal, it’s got to fend for itself.  AOL Money’s new incarnation is DailyFinance, a formidable offering worthy of investor eyeballs.  DailyFinance is the crux around which AOL has woven its numerous niche sites, like financial blogging site BloggingStocks and personal finance site, WalletPop.  Look to AOL to get its ship in order and move up the traffic charts.  Yahoo Finance, barring a sale of the tech firm, will continue to dominate, without really any changes to the platform.  They’re pretty much on cruise control but will still get the vast majority of financial traffic.  Google Finance will still suffer from lack of attention but the search firm will turn its sites on generating traffic to the fledgling site given the fact that CPMs are high in the financial vertical.
  2. Consolidation in the brokerage industry: While many of the old-school online brokers (what a weird expression) are still wary of the changes social media has ushered in to online finance, a couple of the startups in the field (Zecco, TradeKing, TradeMonster) understand it very well.  I think you’ll see the big boys make a small tuck-in acquisition of one or two of these players and continue to run them under their own brand.  An acquisition would be  a relatively inexpensive laboratory for the big brokers to begin to get a feel for the second generation online trading environments.
  3. Small RIAs begin to adopt expert communities in greater numbers: Covestor and kaChing offer asset managers an alternative distribution mechanism to bring in assets.  Through a transparent trading platform and encouraged blogging, expert communities provide a business model to the financial blogosphere as participants get paid by investors to mirror their trading activity in their own brokerage accounts.
  4. Howard Lindzon does it again: StockTwits gets an offer for $25 howard_stocktwitsmillion — I’m not convinced he accepts it or where the offer comes from, but his winning streak continues.
  5. SeekingAlpha raises another round of financing: On top of the round they just raised, the financial content aggregator will go to the till to raise more funds as profitability remains somewhat elusive and management gets aggressive about growth.
  6. Reuters buys Wikinvest: Reuters understands branded content (a wikinvestla Felix Salmon and recent purchase of Breaking Views) but also understands the power of social media.  Wikinvest would be an interesting addition to the recent rollout of sweet, new Reuters.com.
  7. Jim Cramer and TheStreet.com left with few options: TheStreet.com sees revenues decrease and isn’t able to find a buyer or strategic investor.  Their blend of freemium content doesn’t resonate well with the public and they continue to struggle to find footing.  While current columnists won’t see the whupping that Dykstra took this year, the firm prepares for bankruptcy in 2011.
  8. Bloomberg, Bloomberg, Bloomberg: Bloomberg fires on all cylinders.  As it continues to own the institutional space, with BusinessWeek in tow, Bloomberg gets serious about retail financial/business content.  They hire more than 5 people to run Bloomberg.com and they make other smart, strategic acquisitions to pimp out their portfolio of properties.  For a firm that gets so little of online finance traffic (I think last numbers were less than 5% of online finance traffic), they have a long runway ahead of them.
  9. James Altucher becomes  the man: Blending smarts with a good altucher_dailyfinance_blogwatchsense of humor, Altucher is on his way to ubiquity with great positioning in the WSJ, RealMoney, and AOL’s DailyFinance. Look to see more of Altucher’s market commentary and stock picks.  By the end of 2010, Altucher will launch his own mutual fund as he goes retail.
  10. Maria Bartiromo and Tiger Woods: 2010 will reveal that the queen of CNBC will have traveled with Tiger on his private jet numerous times with no chaperon.  Well, not really.  But who hasn’t been with Tiger…

Wishing everyone a great holiday season and a prosperous 2010.  It can only get better from here (I hope).