Social Capital Backs New App For Stock and Crypto Trading

July 17, 2018

By Tanaya Macheel

An app called CommonStock has come out of stealth mode with more than $1.8 million in seed funding to make stock trading more social, Cheddar has learned.

CommonStock is a group chat platform for investing in “traditional” stocks and cryptocurrencies. Friends can discuss ideas, share their portfolios and invest together — or engage in some competition by ranking group members by performance. Users can link accounts with different brokerages and crypto platforms, share their holdings with groups, and get real-time alerts when friends make new investments.

CommonStock, based in San Francisco, has been testing its app among fewer than 100 people over the past two months. It plans to use the new seed funding to continue building features into the app and learn from user behavior. Resolute Ventures’ Mike Hirshland led the round. Social Capital, Upside VC, Studio VC and Elefund VC also participated.

Like Robinhood, the hugely popular investing app, the company’s vision is to make trading more accessible to young people — who, historically, have had little exposure to the stock market either because they didn’t have enough money to participate or because it was simply not welcoming for newcomers. CommonStock tries to give users the tools to learn about stocks, understand business concepts, and connect with peers to reinforce what they learn and make it more fun.

David McDonough, founder and CEO, said the app is more comparable to a Bloomberg Terminal, a $24,000 computer whose messaging feature lets institutional investors communicate easily with each other to share knowledge and information when making trades, he said.

“There’s no platform to make sharing the information more accessible to retail investors…If I want to share a trade idea with my mom, or a few friends want to be able to share asset prices, there’s no easy way to do that,” he said. “We’ve created what’s like a virtual trading floor where anyone can create a group and easily share information about a stock or crypto.”

Robinhood, which launched five years ago, has dominated the mind share and market share as a stock trading platform for retail investors — and gained even more popularity this year after it added cryptocurrencies to the platform. CommonStock probably won’t be the only company to follow with a Robinhood-like platform. Goonder, a similar app based in Argentina that bills itself as the Tinder for stock trading, recently told Cheddar it plans to enter the U.S. soon.

That’s a trend often seen broadly across fintech and Silicon Valley: when a company has success, others come in and put a different spin on it. Ultimately the market gets crowded; the overwhelming majority of venture-backed start-ups fold into bigger firms, but some become brands — even if based on just a single feature that adds something new and valuable to the user experience. Resolute Ventures is betting on CommonStock’s communication play to do that.

"What we’re predicting with CommonStock is a world where people get serious about researching stocks, knowing the latest trends and news about who’s trading what,” Hirshland said. “The Robinhoods and Coinbases of the world are opening up stock trading to a much broader group of people compared to five to 10 years ago. I see that trend continuing as young people become young professionals and then just professionals. That world is going to expand immeasurably.”

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