The Democratization of Everything

Trading as Videogame? $5 for Life as Kapitall Pushes Drag-and-Drop Investing

The timing might be off for a super easy trading interface.
kapitall Trading as Videogame? $5 for Life as Kapitall Pushes Drag and Drop Investing

(kapitall.com)

Kapitall is an online trading platform designed for the next generation of investors: kiddies who grew up on Xbox and Twitter. It’s interactive! It’s visually appealing! It’s social! The startup’s motto is, “If you can drag, and you can drop, you can trade.”

The Soho-based startup has been trucking along for almost four years, but it seems to be ramping up the customer hunt. We received a note from a rep pitching us on how Kapitall is “changing the game,” and the first thing we noticed after mousing over to the site was a red banner promising $5 for life for users who sign up by the end of March. The company also has two blogs—an investing news wire and a behind-the-scenes company blog—as well as an aggressive presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, through which Kapitall evangelizes what may be the most dumbed-down investment platform ever.

Kapitall’s hard pitch comes at a time of high unpopularity for the stock market and its traders. The memory of Occupy Wall Street is still fresh in our minds, bolstered by the barrage of election season debates which inevitably touch on economic fragility. While Kapitall’s promise to democratize investing may align with the nation’s surging populism, alternative investment models (like Kickstarter, and startup crowdfunding, which may become legal this year) seem more popular than the E*Trade variety.

Still, Kapitall’s come too far to quit now. It released a prototype with practice accounts back in the fall of 2009, but it wasn’t until last month that investors could trade with real money. Signing up for $9.95 takes just minutes before you’re ready to drag and drop some ticker symbols on a page called the Playground. As a spokesperson wrote in an email, “Kapitall has received rave reviews for providing a younger audience of investors with tools that are both educational and fun.” Like Sesame Street.

Kapitall’s tone just seems… off to us. The startup also promises to:

  • make investing more friendly and engaging than ever before with unique drag and drop interface and game dynamics
  • make it simpler and more exciting than ever to research and trade stocks
  • introduce a new way for individual investors of all skills to learn, achieve and play the market

You can also share your portfolios “openly and instantly with fellow Kapitallists, Facebook friends and Twitter followers.” (Because if you don’t want to be social, you shouldn’t be on the Internet.)

Kapitall, founded in 2008 by a team of designers, producers and developers from Apple, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Pearson and Electronic Arts, is owned by Stereo Scope. Kapitall has raised more than $13 million from investors including Bendigo Partners, a fintech private equity firm started by former E*Trade President and COO Jarrett Lilien, media investor Strauss Zelnick, partner in ZelnickMedia Corp., and Stamford, Conn.-based ES & Partner Ventures. It also offers real-time quotes, stock alerts and market analysis, and customers can use the site’s free practice portfolios before taking the $5 leap. Happy-go-lucky trading, readers.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com