The Messy Entrepreneur and Building a Community on The Social Web

Once again my friend Fred Wilson was right. When I first showed him Stocktwits in 2009, he said : ‘If you love stocks and markets and love talking about them all day long, Stocktwits is for you.’

Yes, we created the $(ticker) helping create context and organization for the mass of messages being sent to Twitter, but we quickly built our own platform as well so that we could control our own destiny.

Our team went out and focused on curation and financial media partners interested in a curated markets and financial streams. The Stocktwits API is pulled now by CNN Money, Yahoo Finance, Reuters, Bloomberg and thousands of financial websites and apps. A lot of behind the scenes stuff. I love seeing the creativity of financial contributors as they build their own websites with Stocktwits widgets. Here is Bauen Capital’s trading blog.

We have battled the spam and negativity and politics that have plagued the discussions at other financial websites, with some basic common sense ‘house rules‘. We have built tools and processes for scaling these rules and the community now helps as well.

The original vision …a place to check in to find out what is really happening in the markets and a place to be immersed in ideas and education and hopefully some fun and irreverence. A place to both catch up fast or dive in deep.

As of Friday we unplugged twitter as well. Some interesting things have already happened. The most important being ..nothing. Our distribution partners like CNN and Yahoo etc. were never pulling those messages from us anyways. If messages came through from twitter to Stocktwits they died on Stocktwits. Over the years we have built browser extensions and partnerships with Hootsuite to allow easy sharing from Stocktwits and the web to Twitter, Linked In, Facebook and our financial API distribution partners. We are heads down on mobile products that will look, feel and work, like our website with full cross functionality. While we may be a tad behind here over the years, the tools for building mobile frameworks have only gotten better so when our mobile products hit the app stores they will delight our users.

One new member is Jon Boorman. He is a CMT (Chartered Market Technician…one day I will push these people to call themselves Chartered Market Artists). He loves markets. He now loves writing. He uses Stocktwits and has quickly realized the power of the Stocktwits platform. We love hearing this part:

Today was a good day.

I’m laid up after some minor surgery on my back, popping painkillers as I watch the market, and out of nowhere I’ve just had my best ever day for page views. Yeah, I know, I’m not supposed to look at that stuff at this early stage, but sometimes it’s the only way to tell just how well a post or idea was received.

One of the things I’ve noticed is the recent increase in the number of views coming from dedicated financial websites like Yahoo Finance, Reuters, or CNN Money.When you visit their sites these days, they have a section or widget installed where they display social media activity for a given stock. For example, on Yahoo they have a ‘marketpulse’ page for each stock. You can see the one for Green Mountain Coffee ($GMCR) here, and there’s my tweet in the first 7 or 8 entries towards the end of the day. I was surprised there were so few, but then I realized they aren’t pulling the tweets from Twitter, they’re pulling them from the StockTwits stream, so it’s much more about quality than quantity.

It’s a win-win for everyone, in pulling the feed from StockTwits, Yahoo is getting the curation of those ideas, which means a vastly improved signal to noise ratio for Yahoo users than if they had taken the feed direct from Twitter.
It also means bloggers like me have a better chance of having their commentary viewed and received by a wider audience. Contrast this to doing a search of $GMCR in Twitter where my message shows up as being 30-odd messages ago amongst a whole lot of noise.

Stuff like this is new to an old dog like me, so I’m probably not telling you anything you didn’t already know, but it helped explain some of the sources I’ve been seeing recently for a lot of visitors to my blog. Whenever possible now, if i’m making comments specific to a stock, I post it via StockTwits so I know it goes not just to my twitter audience, but also the more select consumers of financial content on Yahoo, Reuters, CNN, amongst others.

By the way, if you want to see a good example of unintended consequences, try to search the ticker for Walgreen $WAG in Twitter and see what results you get.

What a journey. Somedays we feel like plumbers (Joe the web plumber), somedays we feel like artists, but most of the time we are just entrepreneurs building a viable, thriving, self sustaining community of people that love stocks and markets. It is almost always messy.

Excited to work today as usual.


  1. ranjanxroy says:

    Inspiring stuff. As a former trader, the thrill that once existed of watching an earnings report chopped up and spat out on a bloomberg terminal has completely become replaced by firing up stocktwits before any major report. Keep doing what y’all are doing.

  2. Fred says:

    Unfortunately without the posts from Twitter appearing, the activity on ST has nearly slowed to the pace of these comments regarding Howard’s article. I miss the steady stream of posts.

    • Fred…thats just not true. We moved off when 75 percent of all messages came from our platform. We will more than make this up shortly from our own growth patterns and now we have less of a spam problem though we already were responsible for curating twitter which in the end was not a good business, that is their job. Our users will step up and fill the small void. In the end we are a community and we felt it was time to stand on our own with our contributors. Why not chip in yourself?

  3. The Basis Point says:

    Sometimes it doesn’t sink in when I explain to my readers (I’m an ST housing blogger) what’s going on behind the scenes with ST syndication and the depth of custom curation/moderation, but this post explains it quite well. But Howard, one point your whole team needs to hammer is that twitter loyalists (of which I’m one) who also use ST can simultaneously transmit to TWIT, LNKD, FB as they’re posting on ST. My favorite tool for doing so is the ST Chrome plugin. I pretty much run all my outgoing content from there, then continue conversations as follows: ST in it’s own browser tab; and TWIT, FB, LNKD in a separate Hootsuite browser tab.

  4. matthughes says:

    Well played.

    This post is something of a syllabus for building a social network on the web.

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