SkyGrid Launches Free Real Time Financial News Aggregator

Dump those expensive Bloomberg terminals in the trash, because there’s a brand new financial news product in town. And it’s free. SkyGrid will aggregate all the news about publicly traded companies in a single user interface, and give users a feel for the importance of each news story as well as the overall sentiment of the author.

In January we wrote about SkyGrid, the $6,000 per seat/year financial news product that gives users real time updates via a flash interface on the stocks and sectors they are interested in. Today the service completes its transition to a free service that anyone can use and launches into private beta. You can sign up for it here. Existing users are also given invitations to the service as well, so once you are in you can get your friends on the service, too.

Like TechMeme and Google News, SkyGrid clusters related news stories based on keyword analysis, what they’re linking to, etc. That lets users see a variety of coverage from major news sources and blogs. And SkyGrid also makes a serious attempt to determine the sentiment of each article – red for negative, green for positive.

The main page, shown above, shows major financial news affecting public companies. Users can create separate pages for stocks, a portfolio or sectors that they follow as well. You can also filter by news type (major news sites, blogs, edgar filings, press releases, etc.). Finally, users can look at real time news or filter historical news back up to two weeks prior (the company says they may increase the timeline further back if users want it).

My overall impression: slick and very useful. It’s trivial to find relevant news on just about any public company, grouped by whatever story is being discussed. The engine does an excellent job of picking and ranking stories. But by far the most useful tool is the sentiment engine, which can give stock buyers a very good indication of which way the news is trending without a careful read of the entire article. The sentiment engine isn’t 100% accurate, but it’s good. And users can change the sentiment if they think it’s incorrect.

What I want: more. SkyGrid currently only covers public companies. Large private companies like Facebook, or public company subsidiaries like MySpace, can’t currently be tracked even though there’s plenty of press on them. If they offered private company information as well this would be a serious competitor to services like TechMeme. For now, it’s only another tool in the arsenal for news junkies like me. Of course, serious stock traders will find this extremely valuable, and don’t care about private company news. SkyGrid is targeting those types of users first.

SkyGrid, located in Sunnyvale, California, has raised $13.3 million over two rounds of financing. They were founded in 2005.

Update: Here’s a demo video. Also see Robert Scoble’s interview from today.