PollyTrade Lets You Trade Stocks Via Twitter

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Last month, Lance Walley left his position as co-founder and CEO of Ruby on Rails hosting company Engine Yard, after the VC-funded startup was forced to trim its workforce by 15% last January.

With nothing else on his hands immediately, Walley started building a Twitter application on his own dime (about $10,000) that would basically link your Twitter account to a brokerage account and enable you to trade stocks via the micro-sharing service.

PollyTrade is the result of his work, and it’s currently available in public beta. What it does is link your Twitter account to your E*Trade account (more brokers will be added in the future based on user feedback), and subsequently enable you to do transactions using tweets that start with @pollytrade and include the respective ticker.

For instance, if you’d want to buy 200 shares of Apple, you would tweet ‘@pollytrade buy 200 shares AAPL’ and likewise for selling e.g. 100 shares of General Electric (‘@pollytrade sell 200 shares GE). After communicating with E*Trade, which should only take a few seconds, PollyTrade tweets back your order status along with your brokerage order number. In case something went wrong – because of incorrect formatting or a refusal from your broker – you’ll receive an error message instead so you know the order didn’t go through.

It’s that simple, and the ease of use is what Walley touts as the main selling point: “I always have access to Twitter, even if through SMS, so trading is always just a short text message away.”

That’s true, but there are issues: the service’s flaky reliability is one, security is another. Anyone remember the Mikeyy worm attacks earlier this year? To get around that, you’ll still need to log into your E*Trade account to confirm any transactions passed through PollyTrade, so the app is more like an easy way to start transactions than to actually go from A to Z with buying and selling stock.

On a sidenote: if you have a public Twitter account, other users can see which stocks you’re buying and selling when they follow both you and @PollyTrade, or when they simply go to your profile. Obviously, don’t use PollyTrade if that’s information you want to keep to yourself until they start supporting trading via direct messages (which is in the works).

If you’re all ok with the above and you want to sign up, you can do this here, but note that while in beta the PollyTrade team will decide to let you in only after contacting you.

Curious to see if this takes off, when they’ll team up with the StockTwits folks, and what you think of PollyTrade.

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