2020 has been a difficult year for many businesses, but it has been a fantastic year for brokerage firms. Driven by a record number of new retail investors, companies like Robinhood and Fidelity have experienced record levels Trade.
This boom in trading, along with the popularity of new app-based platforms like Robinhood, has created a potential opportunity for upstarts. These include Public, a New York-based startup whose investment platform seeks to blend social media and investing.
In practice, this means that users can tell each other which stocks they are buying and in some cases see which celebrities or high profile investors are buying. The company has recruited prominent pop culture figures, including skateboarder Tony Hawk and Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers, to spark interest in the platform.
Hawk and Pall are also among those investing in Public’s new $ 65 million Series C funding round. The round, led by venture capital firm Accel, brings Public’s total funding to $ 90 million since its launch in 2018.
“The stock market has always been an intimidating place for the lucky few. As technology continues to disrupt barriers, Public.com is creating a platform that makes investing accessible to everyone, ”Hawk said in a statement announcing the new funding round.
Not so public
But while Public has star power and a compelling thesis, it is unclear to what extent the company is gaining influence in the market. The company declined to disclose how many accounts it has or how fast it is growing. Public also declined to provide information on its assessment.
In a meeting Earlier this year, venture capitalist Ian Sigalow, who invested on behalf of Greycroft, compared Public to Venmo – a network that has grown exponentially thanks to its social media attributes. These attributes, he says, will also allow Public to avoid spending big bucks on marketing, as they can trust the word of the month instead.
Nonetheless, Public can face an uphill battle. A recent report from JMP Securities shows that the number of app downloads for Robinhood is more than quadruple compared to other brokerages. These competitors include traditional brokers and Webull, another trading app with a social media component.
Despite Robinhood’s apparent dominance, the investment in Public suggests to investors that there is room for it to make inroads. Other Public Series C investors include Lakestar, Greycroft, and Advancit Capital.
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