A new invite-only app will let viewers trade stocks as they watch finance influencers livestream

  • Trading.TV is a new Twitch-style platform for finance influencers that’s currently in beta.
  • The company plans to introduce a feature that will let users trade stocks as they watch livestreams.
  • It has raised $6.1 million by tapping into trends in retail trading and the creator economy.

Finance influencers are having a big year.

Social sites like YouTube, TikTok, and Discord have become hubs for creators to discuss a wide range of financial topics, from stock trading to NFTs to sneaker reselling. Reddit is a watering holes for tips on how to trade and short squeeze meme stocks like GameStop and AMC. And apps like Robinhood have brought stock speculating to a younger audience, for better or worse.

The category can be lucrative for finance influencers, some of whom are earning thousands of dollars per month from affiliate marketing, advertising, and brand deals. And a new startup called Trading.TV is looking to cash in on the trend.

Founded by Tobias Heaslip, a 32-year-old former equity trader and analyst, Trading.TV is a new Twitch-style streaming platform focused entirely on financial content. Creators who join the platform can stream about stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and other internet-hyped assets like NFTs and playing cards. They can also upload on-demand content to a Trading.TV video library.

“I think the people that are going to do the best on the platform will have a deep domain knowledge in the asset class that they cover,” Heaslip said. “You could be like a trading card guru or you could be like a sneakerhead that’s just been crazy about collecting sneakers forever. You could be an artist that understands NFTs and the NFT market. It’s not just about being a stock analyst or a bitcoin expert or something like that.”

The company plans to begin testing a feature in the next month that will allow users to trade stocks directly on the platform through an API integration with the fintech company Alpaca. Alpaca is integrated with a variety of other consumer-facing tech products like Slack, Amazon’s Alexa, and IFTTT. Like Robinhood, Alpaca makes money via payment for order flow where it’s compensated for trades it routes to third-party market makers and exchanges. Trading.TV hopes to eventually establish its own brokerage to split earnings with Alpaca for trades on its platform.

Trading.TV, which just announced $6.1 million in new seed funding, is still in beta, and it plans to open its app to more users on a referral basis this fall. The platform is currently being tested by a hand-selected group of creators and some early adopters who joined its waiting list.

The company launched a $1 million creator fund to lure talent onto its app. And Heaslip said the company is doing its best to keep crypto scammers and pump-and-dump schemes off its app by starting out with 50 pre-screened streamers who cover a variety of financial topics and are demographically diverse.

“If you’ve ever been involved in a pump-and-dump scheme, then you would be disqualified and you wouldn’t be allowed on the platform,” Heaslip said. The company’s community guidelines spell out a wide range of prohibited content categories and behaviors, including chain letters, pyramid schemes, and nonfactual statements intended to manipulate the price of a security.

The company plans to make money by selling advertising opportunities to brands and taking a cut of any tips, donations, and subscription revenues earned by creators on its platform.

“They’re trying to basically popularize this intersection between finance and games by way of feeding into the retail-based trading that’s going on,” said Joost van Dreunen, an adjunct assistant professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business. “There is a market there. There is a demand there. The meme stocks have proven as much.”

Whether Trading.TV will be able to weather some of the content moderation challenges that have plagued other social-media apps is an open question. TikTok recently banned financial content outright from influencer-marketing campaigns. And live audio app Clubhouse has encountered difficulties when trying to monitor content in real-time.

Trading.TV said it will enlist community moderators and “super admins” to help police its content. It plans to compensate them either through direct payments or a revenue share model with the creators that they’re moderating.

Offering educational materials to help inexperienced investors spot bad actors could also be a good step, van Dreunen said.

“Provide people with the ABCs [of investing] as you introduce this broad audience to this phenomenon,” he said.

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