Call it social finance. A bunch of investing sites, from MarketWatch and Motley Fool CAPS to Cake Financial and Social Picks, let investors create fantasy portfolios and track their performance. The idea is to compete against each other, celebrity investors, and the overall market. The best investors, whether pros or schmoes, rise to the top and collect a following. It’s the online version of the old stock-picking newsletters. One of the most recent additions to this group, Covestor, takes the idea one step further. It links your online portfolio to an actual brokerage account. So there is real money at stake. Since the site’s launch in June, all of the members who have signed up now collectively manage $100 million worth of their own funds.
It takes guts to bear your investing acumen (or lack thereof) to the world. For instance, here is VC Fred Wilson’s Covestor page (down 1.47 percent since he joined about a week ago—Fred, get out of oil and precious metals already!). You can even put a Covestor widget on your blog to further gain a following.
The idea is that eventually, the best investors will emerge, and Covestor plans on creating ways to invest in their “funds.” They are actually just going to be selling the data and linking it to the brokerage accounts of people who choose to be followers. The investing stars who arise from this social soup will be able to offer their trading data for a fee once they build a track record or give it away for free and enjoy the notoriety of being an investing whiz. Covestor will take its cut as a management fee. The New York City startup has raised angel money from the founders of Seekingalpha, Betfair, Tribe.net, and Wallstrip.