Stock jockeys always want to know the lowdown on companies. Yet keeping tabs on gossip about your holdings, or even about your own company, can be a full-time job. Different message boards attract different blabbermouths: day traders, do-it-yourself investors, even disgruntled employees. To complicate matters, each message board may feature multiple threads on the same company. That's why Gal Arav, a 35-year-old software geek, created InstantBull.com, a stock-talk aggregation site.
Since it launched last July, InstantBull has tracked more than 100 million message-board posts from major chat sites, including ClearStation, InvestorsHub, InvestorVillage, RagingBull, SiliconInvestor, Yahoo! Finance, (YHOO) and Google Finance (GOOG). And, as the name suggests, InstantBull does it fast. "Investors are the ones who appreciate the speed of access," Arav says. "They want the latest buzz on a stock."
InstantBull's nifty All-in-One feature, unveiled in February, lets users type in a stock's symbol and see real-time chitchat. Scroll to the left side of the InstantBull page (do not click), and the full message appears in the main window.
Overall, the site isn't much to look it, but it is speedy. When Google announced fourth-quarter earnings on Jan. 31, InstantBull was collecting 80 posts per minute in the hours following the release, according to Arav. That's impressive, but not all of those posts are going to be useful.
WORK AROUND THE SPAM
In fact, one downside is that the site can't filter out spam and other irrelevant material. Sandwiched among recent postings about Apple's (AAPL) introduction of AppleTV were religious messages as well as a plea to support Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign. What's more, Motley Fool's busy members-only boards are notably absent from the group.
You can still find plenty of good, solid intelligence about companies on InstantBull. In addition to the posts about spikes in volume, investors can read details about how Accredited Home Lenders Holding, a troubled mortgage insurer, secured a $200 million loan. Also noteworthy is InstantBull's "Hot" list, which tracks the most-talked-about stocks. Recently those included Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI) and Goldman Sachs (GS). The Hot button, on the top left corner of the home page, will take you to an alphabetical list of ticker symbols. The ones that appear in the largest typeface are generating the most comments. This setup is a bit clunky, but you get the idea.
More useful is InstantBull's Buzz Matrix, which shows the number of company-specific postings on different message boards. The site tracks the number of messages that appeared in the past five minutes, half-hour, or hour, which can clue you in to market-moving news. After the New York Stock Exchange (NYX) received regulators' blessing for a corporate bond-trading system on Mar. 23, 40 comments were posted within an hour.
More buttons at the top left of the home page let you delve deeper. "Blogs" offers a list of more than 100 financial blogs. You can even do a comprehensive search of the blogs by ticker symbol. Investors can also find links to standard financial fare.
Right now the site is free. But Arav hopes to attract enough loyal users who will think it's worth paying for the intelligence InstantBull provides.
By Lauren Young