Social-investing app Commonstock wants to be the 'Bloomberg terminal of Main Street' and weed out the meme-stock trolls

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This is a photo of a cellphone with a brokerage app opened on its screen. SOPA Images/Getty Images

  • Commonstock wants to be a social investing app for retail traders – and it’s nothing like Reddit.
  • The app, which launched in August 2020, allows users to link their brokerages to verify their bets.
  • Commonstock’s founder wants the app to become the “Bloomberg Terminal for main street.”

A new middleman between brokerage apps like Robinhood and retail traders is emerging.

The app, called Commonstock, aims to attract retail traders looking to share trades and insights into the market – like Reddit, but less chaotic.

Unlike Reddit investing threads like Wall Street Bets, where millions of traders have gathered in recent years, and particularly in 2021, there’s no talk of taking stocks to the moon, hodling shares with diamond hands, or taking down the “hedgies” shorting a stock. Memes along with the less-than-mannerly exchanges between retail traders who call themselves “apes” are also few and far between.

One of the few similarities between the two social platforms is that posts receive “upvotes.”

To stand apart from the massively popular, and sometimes controversial Wall Street Bets forum is exactly what Commonstock founder and Chief Executive Officer David McDonough set out to do.

The idea behind the app, he said, is to “empower” retail traders with good financial and market insights to be “discovered through all the noise and the meme and troll accounts that are on other platforms.”

“It doesn’t mean they don’t make jokes or add some light sarcasm, but there’s also an undercurrent of actual real knowledge,” McDonough told Insider in an interview. With the app, retail traders can link their brokerage accounts to their Commonstock profile to show they “have skin in the game,” he added.

I wanted to see for myself, so I downloaded the app, created a profile, and opted to link my brokerage account.

There were several options, among them Robinhood, Coinbase, Webull, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity Investments. Since I’d previously downloaded and opened a Robinhood account for a different review, I linked that.

Once linked, my username got a blue Commonstock logo next to it – think Twitter’s blue check mark – and my portfolio appeared on my profile, showing the single dollar I’d invested in a Vanguard ETF previously.

To further back up a user’s clout, profiles show the total assets in dollars of all their followers. I don’t have followers yet, so the count was nil. Writing a post looks a lot like writing a tweet, except users are given up to 500 characters to work with and can click “link to a trade” to back up what they’re saying.

The app’s homepage feed looks like a combination of Twitter and trading app Public.com.

Screenshot from Commonstock.com.

Investors’ posts had few upvotes, revealing the relative newness of the platform, which launched only about a year ago, just before meme stocks became a permanent fixture of the market landscape.

McDonough didn’t share the number of people using the platform so far, but he said the platform is aiming to reach tens to hundreds of millions globally over the long-term.

He wants it eventually to be the “Bloomberg Terminal for main street.”

“That’s really our goal is to be this central community on top of every brokerage and help create more engaged and more informed investors across every asset class,” he said.

As someone who regularly reads Reddit investing threads to find story ideas, I did miss the entertainment the meme culture there provides. However, I appreciated being able to weed through the fluff and the chaos of Reddit’s most active investing threads and get into what people were investing in and why.

The platform is still in the early stages of adoption, but once the app has more users, it seems like it could become a valuable tool for users wanting a more serious outlet to talk stocks with other retail investors.