Where were you on September 15, 2008? The day Lehman’s collapse ignited a domino effect that nearly broke the economy’s back. I was sitting at home creating a wire frame for my web startup, “Symblr,” an online community that connects investors with peers to get real time, collective feedback on investment ideas. However, I spent most of that particular day starring like a deer in the headlights as the DOW dropped some 500 points, sending the markets into an even deeper panic. The days that followed… well, you were there, I don’t need to describe what happened next.
I’ve learned two unforgettable lessons since those tumultuous days. The first is that the “professionals” on Wall Street we depended on to rate, analyze and invest our money did not make decisions in our collective best interest. They were either too greedy, woefully negligent or just plain stupid. I’m sure they’d deny the stupid part first. The second lesson is that I should have trusted myself more and not abandoned my vision for Symblr, even under the crush of uncertainty and the evaporation of the VC market.
Back then I envisioned the future of the equities market as a place where social media would decentralize the then untouchable, highly centralized influence of Wall Street. Symblr was meant to be a leader for the future of that movement.
Since last Fall, social media has exploded on the scene. That’s especially true in the investing world, where millions of retail investors (day traders & other individual investors) are connecting through services like Twitter, SeekingAlpha, StockTwits, SkyGrid and Facebook to give each other advice and exchange investment ideas. The real time web technologies that have harnessed and filtered that fire hose of information are creating a collective blue print for knowing when, where and how to invest. The result is what StockTwits pithily trademarked, “The Human Ticker.”
Will the social web deal a blow to the financial industry like it did to the music industry and traditional media? I don’t know, but over the coming months on this blog I will be covering some of the people and trends fueling what I’m calling the era of “Social Investing.” Of course that brings me back full circle to September 16, 2008, a symbolic day I’ll now remember as the day the old guard, represented by Lehman, tumbled and a new collective financial industry emerged from the ashes.