Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters beware, Stocktwits has opened its API for financial data dominance

By Erin Griffith , written on October 26, 2012

From The News Desk

There are two social networks for finance professionals. One is inside a Bloomberg terminal and costs $2,000 a month to belong to. The other is a startup that began on Twitter, ripped itself from the platform, grew to 6 million monthly active users and is free. That one, of course, is Stocktwits, a financial social network and data service that's leading a "data to the people" revolution for investors.

"We're years past the financial Web being locked behind paywalls," founder Howard Lindzon said today at a conference he threw called "Stocktoberfest" near San Diego. "Before Stocktwits, people were pretty much alone," he said. "We're creating a better financial Web."

This stock-based social network being intact, the next logical step, then, is to launch an API. Who doesn't have an API these days? It's the difference between a mere website and the holy grail of platform-dom. A platform with an ecosystem of third party developers is far more desirable than a measly website. Spotify has an API. has an API. GiftRocket has an API. SkimLinks has an API.

Now StockTwits does too. As hinted by by Lindzon in April, StockTwits has been developing its API. It launched late last month. Now more than 60 developers are building more than 100 different apps integrated with Stocktwits' data.

The unique thing about this one is that the company barely has to work to get developers because -- shock -- there aren't any other APIs using financial data for fintech companies to build on. Stocktwits' data is very unstructured, but it's attractive to developers from ChartIQ, a stock chart analysis tool to Estimize, a financial estimates platform. "It's all the stuff I've wanted to create that now our partners are creating," Lindzon said. It's early days -- partners are just beginning to see the value of StockTwits' three years of sentiment and trading data.

StockTwits has been moving away from its beginnings as an aggregator of stock-related Tweets for the last year. The company invented the dollar sign stock symbol hashtag as a way to aggregate Tweets relevant to traders, but now it offers an entire dashboard for free, with functions that mimic Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters terminals. The interesting thing about many of StockTwits' API partners, which access the data for free at this time, and several of the fintech startups I met at the FinTech Innovation Lab accelerator, is that they're mobile. Financial tech has been slow to adopt mobile, because most trading decisions are made at a desktop computer surrounded by 10 monitors. But increasingly, one of those screens is an iPad.

Given StockTwits' beginnings in Twitter's quandrant of death, not to mention its name, it's remarkable that the majority of new signups to Stocktwits have no longer come via Twitter. The company has solidified its dominance of the financial social Web, with 6 million monthly active users sending more than 50 messages a minute during market hours, covering 3,000 ticker symbols.

Lindzon, who also created the sadly defunct satirical finance show Wallstrip, sees himself as leading a revolution -- he's democratizing financial data. He believes in "radical disclosure," meaning, that sharing the right things opens the right doors. Lindzon admitted to his audience of over a hundred that he's a bit of an oversharer ("I'll tell you when I go to the bathroom!") but noted he benefits from sharing laughs and ideas with everyone he meets. Now he's sharing millions of stock-related Tweets and the accompanying data through the StockTwits API.

[Image courtesy stocktwits]