We first wrote about Israeli startup eToro way back in 2007 when it launched. Since then investors have put more than $8 million into the company. Today they’ll announce that Social Leverage has led a third round, adding $2.4 million more.
What is eToro? It’s commodity, currency and index trading made fun and social. Yes, you read that correctly. eToro puts the sexy into silver trading. Users make trades via a ridiculously easy (maybe too easy) interface. Start off with fake money and see what you’re made of. Yesterday, for example, I quickly lost about 5% of my fake capital on foolhardy and highly leveraged oil and silver trades when I lost my nerve and bailed out a few minutes after jumping in. Maybe when I abandon my day job and start trading full time I’ll learn to do a little research first.
But I can’t deny that it’s a total blast to use eToro. The service makes buying and selling extremely easy to understand, and users seem to agree. CEO Jonathan Assia tells me that users have traded over $100 billion on eToro to date. The average transaction size, before leverage, is $50. Trades made on the site are public for others to view, and successful traders can get quite a following on the service.
If you forget for a minute that you’re using real money and actually buying and selling stuff you might think you’re in the middle of an online game. In fact, Howard Lindzon, the founder of new investor Social Leverage, calls eToro “Zynga for real men,” referring to the fact that there’s actual money being made and lost while you’re playing the “game.”
Lindzon’s interest is worth noting. The eToro model is much like Lindzon’s StockTwits, which shows stock buys and sells in a Twitter-like stream. Assia won’t comment on whether a partnership with StockTwits is coming, but it isn’t hard to bet that some sort of strategic relationship is coming.
The company, which has 1.5 million registered users, has 120 employees in Israel, New York, Australia and Cyprus.