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Guide to Social Networking Websites: StockPickr, Vestopia, Covestor, SocialPicks, ValueWiki




The rise of Web 2.0 is really the repackaging of old ideas with a few new technologies. One of the hottest trend in 'social networking' websites are those focused on the stock market & investing.

marketocracy logo.pngThose that were around for Web 1.0 will remember the original investment social networking site: Marketocracy. It allowed anyone to create a track record. If you were good enough, you went into the top 100 (the "m100") and were given extra attention and privileges. Eventually they spun the idea into their own family of mutual funds.

There was also Don Luskin of OpenFund, a mutual fund that was so transparent, you could not only see their real time trades but even watch a real time video feed from their offices and see their trading stations. I kid you not. Unfortunately OpenFund was a victim of the bubble and imploded. But who can ever forget Luskin's infamous meltdown live on realmoney.com's Columnist Conversation? Ahh, good times.

Now, each day seems to bring a new site that mashes together myspace and Wall Street. Here is a quick run down of them (if I miss any, let me know):

bullpoo logoBullPoo is an unfortunately names site that is actually quite good. It is what you'd expect in a social investing site but it also has a few neat features. Since I already wrote a review of BullPoo, I won't repeat myself. Except to add that they've grown nicely and attracted quite a crowd.

cake financial logoCake Financial allows you to track your brokerage account as well as those of others. This is no fantasy and it is no game. All data is real. This is similar to Covestor (see below) but with looser requirements and restrictions. Cake currently can handle stocks, ETFs and mutual funds and has plans to add options and bonds. Currently it is free but it will be monetized later by charging for features like sending email notifications of trades from other members or assessing your portfolio based on what the community as a whole or "strong performers" are holding and trading.

caps fool logo.pngNot to be outdone by these young whippersnappers, the Motley Fool community has come up with CAPS. It is their version of a 'social' investing and stock picking site. And yes, it does have the obligatory Web 2.0 'beta' slapped on the header. Like Zecco (see below) it is easy for establishe community sites to tweak a few things and come up with a social version. CAPS has a lot of Web 2.0 features like rating, tagging, blogs, and digg style vote buttons but its most innovative feature are 'video pitches'. These are short videos by people who feature a stock and why it is a buy.

collective2 review.pngCollective2 is not the typical 'social' investing website. C2 allows people to create verifiable track records and then to sell their services to others. These can be discretionary based or automated systems. In either case C2 even allows you to plug the signals directly to a broker so you don't have to lift a finger - except to pick a system and monitor it. Some systems are very pricey while others are quite cheap. And others only charge you if there is a profitable month.

covestor logo.pngCovestor is probably the most exclusive and ambitious social investing website. Their members must have a $10,000 equity account, a "demonstrated investment experience" and be willing to share their trading with others. Unlike other sites where members input their picks, Covestor pulls the data from the members brokerage account. The idea of course, is that once you have an attractive and verified track record, others can piggy-back on your investment decisions. The part that's missing is compensation. Who would want to expose their brokerage account to such transparency for no return?

feelingbullish logoFeelingBullish is all about reputation. The more stocks you rate and the longer (time frame) you use, and assuming you are correct, the more reputation points you will earn. They have also done an interesting integration of blogs, forums and ratings. For most sites these features are separate islands but in FeelingBullish if you read an interesting blog post about a stock, you can also find the rest of the mentions of it easily. It appears that FeelingBullish is no longer active (the website doesn't load).

hedgestop logo.pngHedgeStop is less a social networking site than a fantasy stock market game. You are given $50 Million in fantasy money and invest it however you like. Your picks and portfolio are tracked and compared to other members. You can also invite your friends and create an independent conference to compete within your group. HedgeStop seems an informal and fun place to hang out.

investorface logo.pngInvestorFace is "a free online community designed to find, review and share investment ideas". On the site there are different categories for sectors and within them individual stock picks. The picks have a digg like 'vote' button so you can see which have gotten the most nods. Other than that, the site seems to be pretty much like a regular forum or messageboard.

market guru logoMarketGuru lets you create and track the performance of your portfolio as well as seeing how others are doing. The object of the site is to identify "market gurus" or experts. The site ranks members according to the risk they took to create their returns. Then you are allowed you to hire these top performers or "gurus" (up to 3 at a time). On the flip side, if you are a "guru", you stand to make $5 for every paying member that follows you. Which makes MarketGuru somewhat similar to Collective2 (see above)

mint logoMint is a well established presence in the online financial space. Mint allows you to manage your whole finances online, from checking accounts, credit cards and savings. Now they have moved into the social network side of things by allowing their members to track their portfolios: brokerage accounts, IRAs, etc. Here's a backdoor to get a beta invite. I'm not sure how "social" it will be but Mint has plans to offer full access so you can buy and sell directly from your account and even pay bills. A complete one-stop shop for your budgeting and investing needs.

predictwallst logo.pngPredictWallstreet, as the name suggests, is a site where people can make predictions, keep track of them and see the predictions of others. The user interface is similar to the newly introduced marketwatch sentiment buttons. You call up a symbol and either predict it will go up or down. And then you see what others have 'predicted'. I can't help but think this will be a very good contrarian indicator. But only if enough people participate.

stokblogs logo.pngStokBlogs seems to be nothing more than a forum slapped on blogs. The site also allows you to keep and publicise a portfolio. But other than that, the features and offering is rather bare. Which probably explains that the site doesn't seem to have many members nor activity.

socialpicks logo.pngSocialPicks is a community of investors that share ideas and exchange views. It has a neat feature similar to BullPoo (see above) which tracks a members performance and gives them a ranking. This is useful because it creates an incentive for a user to stick around and get a higher ranking (MMORPG style) and it gives a signal to the other members about the quality of their opinions.

stockalicious logoStockalicious is very simple and straightforward. Create a portfolio by picking stocks, trading them (buying/selling) and sharing it with the world. There are no bells or whistles here. Stockalicious keeps track of your performance, whether ugly or pretty. If you're looking for a clean, easy to use site with no confusing features or options, this is probably the site for you. But strangely enough, their forum is one dedicated to 'neural networks'.

stockfriend logoStockFriend is another social networking investment site. As with almost all of them it is in public beta. It offers the usual: picking stocks, keeping a portfolio, seeing others' stock picks, engage in discussions, etc. They even have a stock picking contest (like many other sites). You can be a member on your own or join a group and participate in a 'team'.

stockpickr logoStockPickr was founded by James Altucher and quickly has become one the most popular of such sites. It looks to be an early winner. Just a while ago it was bought out by thestreet.com which gave it even more street cred and traffic. I find the user interface a bit crowded and confusing. A unique feature of the site is different portfolios which try to emulate great investors like Warren Buffet, Carl Icahn, George Soros, etc.

theupdown logo.pngThe UpDown, the brainchild of a group of Harvard students, is the newest website to this scene. Unlike other sites you can earn real money by: outperforming the S&P 500 through your picks, getting votes for your high quality analysis and finally, a commission on everyone who you invite to join the site. The site is in closed beta so you either get one of those invites from current members or you wait for notification. The only qualm I have about their plan is that they don't quite explain where this money comes from or how much you can expect to earn.

vestopia logo.pngVesTopia is similar to Covestor but they have gone a step further and actually seeded their site with experienced money managers they call "investment directors". This is probably the best feature since it allows you to peek at the thinking process and strategy going on behind the scene. But anyone can apply to be an "investment director". The thing I can't understand is what is VesTopia's business model?

valuewiki logo.pngValuWiki, as the name suggests is a wiki style community dedicated to gathering information on value stocks. The site allows, in wiki style, for anyone to add, edit or change the information they have. As well, members can create their own blogs and research. To date they have information on 75,644 securities. Although this isn't what many would think of as a 'social networking' site, it has great content and a very flexible user interface. The next time you want to research a stock drop by and check out what they have on it.

wikinvest logoWikinvest is what is sounds like it might be: a wikipedia like site that specializes on investing. It has a dizzying array of articles and a very strong community base. Similar to ValueWiki, you can research specific well-known companies like Apple or General Electric. Wikinvest has some good articles on economic and financial concepts like interest rates or oil prices. As well they cover sector and industry data. The coolest feature, as far as I'm concerned, is "WikiCharts": stock charts annotated with important company milestones or news. So if you ever wondered what effect the confirmation of the 3G iPhone by AT&T had on Apple's stock... wonder no more.

Worthio is so beta, it is just a screen! "Worthio is not intended to compete with the multitude of finance sites around the web. It complements them. We built Worthio with three specific goals in mind:

1. Assist people in screening stocks by providing easy to use filtering and sorting abilities.
2. Give people the ability to rely on each other for overall sentiment about a stock (bullish vs. bearish) vs. being forced to rely only on analysts and talking heads.
3. Build a community around stock screening."

Worthio is being developed by Inkling who have previously developed prediction markets being used by corporations and other organizations. Worthio was never really developed and is now defunct.

zeccoshare logoZeccoShare is very similar to Covestor but as you'd expect, it is for the customers of Zecco, the no commission brokerage. Right now it is in obligatory Web 2.0 beta. Again, I'm not too sure why someone would choose to turn on full transparency for their brokerage account and let the world in on their trades (along with the security risk of having their account compromised). Zecco also has a blogs section which provides information but isn't a 'social' site.

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25 Responses to “Guide to Social Investing Websites”  

  1. 1 David Merkel

    The day of the Luskin meltdown was classic. Here's the link for those that have access to RealMoney:

    http://www.thestreet.com/p/dps/cc/20010607/daysentries.html

    I interacted with Luskin a little before he imploded, and tried to talk tohim about value investing, including the value of free cash flow and dividends. Had he listened, OpenFund might have survived.

    David

  2. 2 Jim

    Most of these networking sites focus on trading of individual stocks, options, futures, etc. Do you know of any site whose focus is on trading of mutual funds, specifically sector funds, and index funds? Thanks for another worthwhile post. Jim

  3. 3 www.FundsOption.com

    Some of these networks are actually pretty cool. Mine is obviously better but the other ones provide some good realtime data for trades. I agree, I don't really see much point to Covestor.

  4. 4 nm

    Also see GStock which uses a grid of volunteered computing power to find profitable investment strategies

  5. 5 Rikki Tahta

    Hi -

    I'm the CEO of Covestor.

    In answer to Jim's comment above we cover both Mutual Funds and ETfs. Frankly a portion of my own portfolio ( see - http://www.covestor.com/mbr/rikkitahta ) is invested in funds and I'm interested in following people who spend time managing their own porfolio of funds and stay on top of it. Better than paying 2% to UBS to manage it for me where I have less choice and transparency.

    The point to Covestor and Vestopia is REAL money. Investing is not a Zero sum game - i'm happy to show what I'm investing in because, if we all do we all benefit, and besides exposing post trade informtion only benefits me.

    As to compensation: we operate in a regulated environment, and we're putting the systems in place, so please bear with us.

    Cheers Rikki

  6. 6 George

    You might also consider adding Value Investing News to you list. It is a social investing site designed to gather and filter news for the value investing community.

  7. 7 Babak

    Rikki,
    the idea is great but the execution is complicated. For example, although covestor shows real trades, it doesn't give any clue re position sizing or risk management. As any experienced trader will tell you, those two are the key to longevity and success. Not mere signals (transactions). In any case, I wish you the best. It isn't easy starting something so ambitious!

  8. 8 Rob

    Tradeking has a feature on their community where they share actual trades people have done. I think they launched that over a year ago (I got an email from them I think).

  9. 9 Michiel de Boer

    Hello,

    I am Director of Product Development at Zecco.

    Great overview. Personally, I think there are some general dimensions on which the different offerings can be classified:
    - Real (verified) data versus virtual (unverified) data
    - Personal versus social use of data
    - Integrated with or separate from related services (e.g. news, market data, trading)

    I guess it is all about what people are looking for that will determine which offerings will be more successful than others. At Zecco we strongly believe in the real, social, and integrated approach.

    In addition, allow me to address some specific questions raised above:

    1. ZeccoShare currently enables you to share portfolios holdings and trades, including sector and index ETFs.
    2. Yes, next to these signals, performance is obviously key in finding and interpreting other traders' data. These tools will be implemented shortly at ZeccoShare.
    3. Next to just looking at others, our current Beta users are asking for various tools to communicate with one another. Currently we offer public shoutboxes and trade notes, private mail messages, and next week we are introducing instant messaging.

    Michiel

  10. 10 Rikki Tahta

    Hi Babak,

    You are SO right - execution is totally complicated and there are trade-offs everywhere. In answer to the question

    "though covestor shows real trades, it doesn’t give any clue re position sizing or risk management. As any experienced trader will tell you, those two are the key to longevity and success. "

    We do show % allocation, indicative size of fund and basic risk metrics (sharpe, SD and Drawdown) so give a basic view of those statistics

    However drilling down

    - Sizing - (trade-off) initial alpha testing got strong feedback that people wanted to keep their net worth secret - so we put accounts into buckets - S/M/L. That gives you an idea of the position in the sohort term we will probably not provide more detail than that.

    - Risk Management - we can improve here - for instance we don't take account of option hedging strategies (eg covered calls or puts) that are used to manage risk.

    It's still Day 1 -

    Cheers Rikki

  11. 11 Rob

    I currently run, Wikistock. It would have been nice to be included in the list. If anyone happens upon this, please check the site out. Working hard on trying to build it into something useful.

    www.wikistock.com

  12. 12 casey

    I always visit stokblogs, because 2 or 3 certain bloggers are quite useful to find new stocks for further investigation :-)

  13. 13 Babak

    Rob, thanks for the headsup on your site. Please continue to work on it and when you have a direction and a better idea of what you are offering, I'll be happy to add it to the list

  14. 14 Trish

    Sorry to make my debut with a negative report, but here goes.

    I'd hoped to find a website where I could set up a virtual portfolio similar to my real one and
    gather comments (probably derision!) from a community of online traders.

    The BullPoo site (renamed this week to DueDee) looked the most interesting to me, so I registered.
    Unfortunately, it isn't exactly what it appears to be. Granted, the title says "beta", so
    one should expect some features to be buggy or missing. On the other hand, I think it's fair
    to expect developers to label large missing parts.

    The trading system had problems for a few days after the renaming and all blog links were
    broken for the first day or two. Those have been fixed. The big part that's missing is
    the community.

    There have been only half a dozen posts in each of their "Feedback" and "General Discussion"
    forums in 2008. Everywhere on the site, dates omit the year, so the site will look as fresh
    in 2010 as it does now, even though most of the visible activity was posted in 2007.

    One can create a user blog and post to it, but the only blog entries one sees in the site's
    index don't lead to individual user's on-site blogs, but to external sites that are mostly
    professional stock pickers. If I wanted to read newsletters, I'd search yahoo or google for
    newsletters.

    There seem to be only about 20 "registered users". The records for "Best Forecasts" and "Biggest
    Portfolio" are held by users whose profiles show "no forecasts made by this user" and "user's
    portfolio value is $0", respectively. The "#1 Forecaster" wrote a blog post in May, but checking
    the date and day of the week, it was from 2006!

    There's nothing wrong with running a traffic aggregator for a few blog/newsletter sites combined
    with a private portfolio simulator, but it's a little misleading to say that the site has, or in
    any way builds, a community. And it's very misleading to chop the year off every date of every
    event in the website.

    (Oops, I finally found a year! On users' profile pages, it says "member since Day Month Year".)

    Still hoping to find a social feedback trade modeling site,
    Trish

  15. 15 Jim

    I suggest another addition to this list: http://www.macroaxis.com

    Although it is not built for social investing, few concepts are very similar. I really like their implementation of Modern Portfolio Theory – the concept that is mostly used by Wealth Advisor and professional money managers. Unlike investor rating and performance tracking they use educated approach to investing which is a good way to reduce your exposure to market risk and build your optimal portfolio that can protect you against market bubbles.

  16. 16 coolpixel

    none of these sites seem to be geared towards forex or indices and i am interested in those instruments.

    any pointers?

  17. 17 Babak

    coolpixel, yes they're mostly for equity investors. collective2 would have more forex coverage than any other probably.

  18. 18 holly

    They are criminals, Zecco, the so called free trade with a HUGE hidden charge. Zecco basically steals your money right before your eyes. One example: they charge you HTB fees for very easy to borrow stocks and charge you almost everyday including weekends and even after you covered the positions!! Complaints have been sent to the SEC and got to do sth to stop those criminals!!

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