Zignals is debuting today as a site to help ordinary investors trade stocks as intelligently as more sophisticated investors.
Based in Dublin, Ireland, Zignals lets individual investors set up a bunch of rules and conditions that make it easier for them to invest in a stock or sell it at the optimal time. The decision-support tools come with access to a financially-savvy investor community where users can get advice.
“It’s … for the people who are active traders but aren’t staring at a stock-trading screen eight hours a day,” said Pat Brazel, CEO of Zignals (pictured here), in an interview. “Without the access to high-cost brokers, individual investors are usually cast adrift.”
It’s more rule-focused than many of the other more intensely social investing sites, such as Covestor, Zecco, Cake Financial, Marketocracy and Wikinvest. We reviewed 11 of these social investing sites in February. Zignals also competes against with more generic sites such as Google Finance, Microsoft’s own MSN Money, or Yahoo Finance.
Investors can set up strategies such as “buy this stock if the price falls below $25 and the price of its rival rises above $35. Zignals sends alerts to the users’ devices — PC, cell phone, pager etc. — when triggering events occur so that the investor doesn’t have to stay glued to a screen. The service also hopes to help democratize the art of investing by letting investors post their strategies and even the specific rules they used so that others can learn from them.
The company raised a $4 million round in December from investors, including Microsoft, Enterprise Ireland and other investors including Brazel, Scott Tattersall, Manresa Partners and angels. Microsoft provides supporting technologies, including Microsoft’s Solver program and its Adobe Flash rival Silverlight.
David Harnett, senior director of Microsoft IP Ventures, said that Microsoft has a 15 percent stake in Zignals and is helping it work on its technology. Microsoft’s help includes launching Zignals at a European investor summit in Brussels today. IP Ventures is the group within Microsoft that deals with spin-outs and new venture investments. Other IP Ventures companies include Skinkers, Wallop and Zumobi.
Zignals is launching its beta service today. The company has 10 employees.