By Karyn McCormack
The new investing site InstantBull is what you might envision if one of the popular investing sites were given the Pimp My Ride treatment. Like the popular MTV show, this new site has a souped-up way to navigate and search message boards and ordinary financial data.
Set to launch on July 18, InstantBull lets investors sift through the most popular stock message boards at Yahoo Finance, Raging Bull, and SiliconInvestor, to name a few. Message boards let investors freely discuss and opine about the latest happenings with the stocks they follow. But one popular stock message board that morphed into a successful franchise, The Motley Fool, is one is notably absent from InstantBull.
ALL THIS FOR NOTHING?
InstantBull also aggregates news, blogs, and vital financial stats for publicly traded companies. It's similar to Yahoo Finance and Google Finance (see BusinessWeek.com, 3/21/06, "Google Finance, with Kinks") in terms of the vast information available, but the user interface and technology is unique. You need to click just once or scroll over an item to make it appear on the screen. The site is lightning fast, and there's no software to download to get started. Oh yeah, it's free.
The first thing you'll notice on InstantBull is the large space in the center for advertising, with a logo that looks like a racetrack sign. At the top is what commonly appears on financial sites: A stock lookup box. What sets this one apart is that when you enter a letter of a ticker or company name, a list of possible matches will appear underneath. This saves time and guesswork to find a company's ticker. On most sites, including Yahoo Finance, when you don't know a ticker, you have to type the company name in the box, and then choose from a table of companies that match before you get to a company quotes page.
Investors devoted to message boards—the main feature of the site—will find plenty to like. After entering a ticker in the box, choose from seven message boards including Yahoo Finance and Raging Bull, or the popular stock blog SeekingAlpha, listed at the top right of the screen and hit "Go." A list of messages posted by investors about a stock will appear on the left side. By scrolling over a message with your mouse (do not click), the full posting appears in the center screen. You can also view the table of messages. To switch to a different message board, simply click the button next to the name. This saves a bundle of time for investors who scan and participate in a number of message boards.
To research stocks, click the "Info" button on the top left. Scroll over the arrow next to each category—which includes analysts' rankings, insider transactions, balance sheet, competitors, and news—to get links to the "best-in-class" financial sites determined by the seven-person staff at InstantBull. The links call in company pages from all the heavyweights—Yahoo Finance, Google Finance, Morningstar, MarketWatch, Reuters, SmartMoney.com, CNN Money, TheStreet.com, Forbes.com—as well as niche sites such as Investopedia.com, without having to leave InstantBull. If you prefer to use one site to find essential financial information, stick with Yahoo Finance or Google Finance. But if you like a variety of choices, InstantBull has the goods.
More buttons at the top left let you delve deeper. "Blogs" offers a list of 20 financial blogs, including the Kirk Report and Random Roger's Big Picture. Again, when you scroll over each one, the blog home page appears in the center, so you don't leave InstantBull. On the other hand, the "Web" and "News" buttons will open a new browser on the actual site. The "Msg" button sends you back to the chosen message board corresponding to the ticker in the lookup box.
The small yellow star button allows you to create and save lists of stocks you track most often. When you click on a ticker in your list, a Google Finance page will appear that includes real-time ECN quotes. The button with a red zig-zag line brings a choice of sites with charts. The best interactive charts right now are from Google Finance—there's little reason to go elsewhere.
Another nifty feature is the arrow button at the top right of the screen that allow users to adjust the page width to fit sites with wide screens.
InstantBull is essentially a revved-up vehicle to get you to other sites quickly. "Investors don't have time to look at all the sites for company information," says InstantBull CEO Gal Arav. "I've picked the fastest and best-in-class information—and done the legwork for the end user." He says he started the Bedford (Mass.) outfit in January after profiting from a prototype of this tool for his personal investments and that he has patents pending on the stock lookup (based on AJAX) and the message board aggregation technologies.
Down the road, Arav plans to expand from an advertising-only model to a subscription model with partners to offer premium services, while keeping the free aggregation of boards and data. At this point, he has not partnered with any of the sites listed on InstantBull. He says his team is developing "cutting-edge features," but declines to reveal what they are. In the meantime, he says he'll keep updating the site and welcomes suggestions from users.