By Sramana Mitra and guest author Rajdeep Ramsay
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Dan. Welcome to our Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series. Let’s begin by talking about what TradeKing does, and what your business is, and what is the scope of cloud deployment we are talking about for your company. Also, would you give us some background about you.
Dan Raju: TradeKing is an online brokerage that was started around 2005. At present, we manage close to $2 billion in assets, and we have around 250,000 individual investors. We use our platform and services for their trading needs. At the end of the day, we are a company that is competing with ETRADE, AmeriTrade, and so on, but with a different perspective and angle. We were the first company to introduce social media and through that give an investor full ability to collaborate, cross collaborate, exchange ideas, express ideas, and get guidance from a community. Now we are continuing that spirit with a new way of looking at trading itself. That is what largely we do.
SM: Let’s talk more about this differentiation. TradeKing is a consumer trading platform, correct? It is not a white label brokerage for banks or anything like that, it is a consumer trading platform?
DR: Right, it is largely you as an investor wanting to invest.
SM: OK. And what about the kind of social media activity you are fostering in this community – is it content generated by the investor? Are investors sharing information with each other, or are you bringing information from around the Web? For instance, I have a technology stocks column on my blog where we write about specific types of investments, specific stocks for instance. Do you also bring that in as part of your social media approach, or is it investors who are members of your platform talking among and about themselves?
DR: We do both. You have to think about it this way: At the end of the day when a person is trading, he or she goes through a three-step process. That person is looking for insights, and these insights could come in the form of collaboration and the insight could come in the form of reading something. The insight could come in the form of following a particular stock, a particular company, or a particular sector. A person is generally looking for insights, and the insights could be the person following news, it could be emails, it could be anything, right? After that, if the person has the right incentive, if there is a suitable customer on there, then he or she goes to a trading bay and then makes a trade or transaction. In the context of what I call “the insight space of things,” we provide insights in many ways. One of the most obvious is we have an entire community of 20,000 customers who go ahead and give input on their trading experiences, their deficiencies, their choices and make it available to the larger community. So, you have those trading experiences, expressions relevant all that being shared.
SM: What is the incentive for these 20,000 customers to share their insights?
DR: It could be as simple as, You know what, this is how well I have performed. I have purchased this equity. It is purely data, it is purely trading-related data that an individual has chosen to share or reveal within that community.
SM: So, there is not necessarily an incentive that your social media infrastructure or platform provides to encourage that behavior of sharing information?
DR: What happens is the community itself is an incentive for people. What we believe is that if I go ahead and express and communicate and collaborate, I benefit in my own trading because I get that shared information in return.
SM: Fair enough, I got it. And you are saying that the curating of the broader investment Web is done by these traders, these investors who are on your platform, and they bring in all these perspectives from other writers or other people who have interesting things to say about a particular equity?
DR: They do that in addition to our doing it. We get news feeds and data feeds from outside, market-relevant sources and also make them available on our platform, so you have this insight framework being fed by the investors themselves. We also provide insights to news feeds and a lot of data input, and we make it available to our customers in a framework that will help them to make the decision that is best for their portfolio.