- StockTwits is a Twitter-like site for people interested in talking about finance and stocks.
- Ian Rosen joined as CEO last year to help teach young readers how to invest.
- The site’s audience is getting younger each day and is now mostly millennials.
While apps and roboadvisors have flooded the market to help make investing easier, truly understanding your investments can still be tricky for those getting started. That’s why Ian Rosen says he decided to join StockTwits last year as the company’s CEO.
“I wanted to take more and more steps to more easily engage newer, younger, novice investors because one thing that we know is there is a giant opportunity,” Rosen told Markets Insider.
Before he moved to StockTwits, Rosen said the platforms for learning how to invest were driving him crazy because they were missing a chance to teach people. He thought StockTwits had an opportunity to address a market of young investors hungry to learn more about saving money.
StockTwits began nine years ago on Twitter, where it started the “cashtag” feature which lets users place a “$” in front of a stock ticker to add their Tweet to a stream of other users discussing a specific company. Since then, the company has built its own platform and exists entirely outside of Twitter now.
The company’s site still focuses on streams of posts from users, similar to Twitter’s platform. Rosen said users posts 150,000 messages a day including annotated charts and investing ideas. Users can also add price targets and watch lists to show off their best ideas and keep an eye on the stocks they care about.
Reading through the stream of user posts is at times a bit overwhelming. Lots of users seem to want to show off deep knowledge of a company’s financials or brag about how much money they’ve made betting on a company before it skyrocketed. But hidden between the braggarts are helpful tips tidbits of knowledge and helpful commentary.
If a user wants to buy an individual stock after reading a bit of commentary on the site, they can do so through a linked brokerage account.
Rosen said StockTwits moderates the discussions to keep them as friendly as possible, and he hopes people who are new to the platform can eventually move from reading and learning from its users to helping others who once were “noobies” like they once were.
Those users who have bought into this idea are heavily invested in the platform. The average user spends 51 minutes a day on the platform, and a majority of them are young retail investors. More than half, 52%, are between the ages of 18 and 34, and they are trending younger every day, according to data from the company. Only 20% of the site’s users are 45 or older.
A lot of the discussions focus on popular consumer stocks. The most popular for August included companies like Snap, Apple, Alibaba, and currencies like Bitcoin. The conversations are a bit more relaxed than on other sites, and memes are regularly used by users to show their enthusiasm for a particular company.
“[Users] share about 10,000 charts a day, most of those are annotated,” Rosen said. “Someone will share a chart to support their opinion, like, ‘Listen, Twitter is going to hell and here’s why. Take a look at this breakout pattern down’ or something like that.”
He points out that the site does have professional investors, but most seem to use the platform as a way to measure the “zeitgeist” of the markets. A hedge-fund manager can quickly see what retail investors are saying about Amazon as it announces a takeover of Whole Foods, for example. These conversations can prove valuable beyond an anecdotal context, Rosen said.
In September, Rosen said the company would be launching a suite of new “premium” features. Advertising currently accounts for about 60% of StockTwits’ revenue a year with the rest coming from events, selling community-level user data and low-volume merchandise sales. Rosen hopes to grow the data portion of the business and allow users to access that data with a subscription. Rosen declined to detail what those changes would look like or how much they would cost before they were announced.
StockTwits is growing 50% a year entirely organically and currently boasts 1.1 million registered users, according to Rosen.
“We want people to have good experiences, and if there is someone that is ganging up on a newbie and saying, ‘Hey, you’re an idiot,’ that’s the kind of thing that we take and say, ‘Hey, listen. Everyone is learning’ or whatever,” Rosen said. “So the conversation can certainly get exciting, and that’s one of the reasons why I joined the company.”