Stocial Launches In Beta To Blend StockTwits With Yahoo Finance (Invites Herein)

With the recent success of StockTwits, the market seems to be showing that there’s ample demand for a social micro-blogging service that targets stocks, trading, and financial information. Or at least that’s what Stocial is hoping. The Seattle-based startup, which is launching today in public beta, wants to be, in conception, the love child of StockTwits and Yahoo! Finance — or, said another way, Bloomberg for the people, by the people.

Essentially, Stocial wants to give its users access to realtime market data and trending stock sentiment in a virtual and “game-ified” venue. Of course, most tickers are capable of the those first two, and StockTwits has certainly shown that Twitter can be a great resource for realtime financial information. But Stocial Founder and CEO Fahad Kamr says that, with its 140-character limit, Twitter doesn’t embody the full potential for sharing stock information.

Stocial wants to incorporate the Twitter feed, but go a couple of steps further, by giving users access to the top stories from Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Bloomberg, etc., all curated in a live feed. So users not only have their Twitter feed but a social feed, where they can see information coming in from friends and followers, as well as a “Stock Pick” feed that tracks, you guessed it, which stocks people are picking and sharing on Stocial. More feeds equals more engagement.

Users can also customize their Stocial stock platform to view news and trends for the overall market, or for specific stocks, keep watch on those stocks, or create circles of experts and follow top investors on Twitter and Stocial, as well as experience news and tweets in realtime or by top items. And much of its infrastructure is powered by Echo, so it’s all scalable and realtime.

But, perhaps the best part is that Stocial offers “contests” in which its users can win cash and, eventually, even land a job. In these contests, users get to pick stocks, go long or short, and pick their price. Contests generally last for two days or a week, at which point the winner receives $50 in cash. And, eventually, $100 and more.

Stocial is thus incentivizing its users by offering a carrot at the end of the string. The startup is currently working with investment firms and banks to source top trading jobs. So, as the startup allows its users to collect badges and lift their reputation score on the platform by picking stocks, interacting, and sharing, when one reaches a high enough level of engagement, the user becomes eligible for a nifty prize: An interview at one of those top firms.

While startups like Zecco are taking new approaches to social stock trading by offering users the ability to trade in real markets — on Facebook in the Zecco’s case — Stocial is instead focusing on virtual trading. Rather than be a site where users can trade in real markets (and there are plenty of these), the Seattle startup wants to be a resource for personalized content, a training ground for users looking to jump into real markets.

To make trading stocks less scary, Stocial created a simple virtual stock trading platform. Stocial only focuses on making stock picks, or, in other words, make forecasts over where the stock may be headed, taking portfolios and the risk-laden aspect of speculation out of the equation. At its core, stock trading can really feel like a game, but of course, when you’re playing with real money, it’s anything but. Thus, with its virtual stock market, Stocial seems positioned to take advantage of the inherent game-ification in trading, yet without the risk and plus the rewards.

The Stocial value proposition, at least in comparison to StockTwits, is that the startup offers realtime, personalized financial news curation, and allows users not only participate in stock conversation via Twitter, but also via the platform in threaded comments (that look a lot like Facebook comments). Like StockTwits, Stocial is also going after social discovery, by allowing users to discover new friends and experts based on the stocks they’ve selected. It also incorporates your existing social circles, so that when a friend on Facebook joins Stocial, users will immediately be alerted.

Currently, Stocial’s team of four is in the process of testing the viability of its business in the space, and is fully bootstrapped at this point, though it is looking to begin raising its first round of investment in the coming months.

TechCrunch readers can grab early access to Stocial’s beta here.

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