Currensee: A Support Network for Traders Risking their Personal Fortunes on the Foreign Exchange Market
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helped found storage-management software startup Onaro, another Boston-Israel startup that was purchased by NetApp last year for $130 million.
Lemont says the original idea for Currensee came from Leventhal’s forex trainees. “He’d finish a class and they’d say, ‘Avi, that was a great class, but can we trade with you? Can we watch what you’re actually going to do?’ He recognized the oppportunity to build a virtual world where people wouldn’t have to be co-located to gain the information they needed to make better decisions.”
With Yigal as lead product architect, Currensee has built a system where traders can see each other’s profiles, including their win-loss percentages and information about their preferred trading strategies, which often veer into the extremely technical, with names like “Fibonacci retracement” and “Elliot wave theory.” Members can also join virtual trading teams, which allow them to monitor one another’s trades in real time and initiate instant-message chat sessions if they want to debate the finer points of a trade.
A “friends feed” reminiscent of a Facebook news feed shows what each member’s trading teammates are up to, in the form of short missives like “Jeff closed a short position on the GBP/USD at 1.4799 7 minutes ago” or “Kosman and Stefan are now trading together.” Currensee also provides charts and graphs full of what Lemont calls “social indicators,” or aggregate statistics about activity on the Currensee network—for example, the percentage of members who are trading long on the Australian dollar versus the U.S. dollar.
Traders looking at that data might decide there are good reasons to go long themselves, or they might decide to do the opposite, on the theory that the market is about to turn. Or they might want to plug such data into their own technical models and see what comes out. “The point is we are providing a new depth of analysis that traders haven’t seen before,” says Lemont.
So, how does Currensee plan to generate currency of its own? In at least two ways, according to Lemont. First, the company will earn commissions from brokers every time it sends new clients their way. Second, while the basic Currensee platform will be free, the company plans to introduce subscription-based analytical tools to help members feel even more informed. “There may be analyses that we do that are much more in-depth [than the basic social indicators] that will cost you $50 or $100 a month,” says Lemont. Such an amount probably wouldn’t be prohibitive, given that active forex traders have minimum brokerage deposits of $25,000 to $50,000.
Currensee has fewer than 20 employees so far, mostly software engineers. The company, which was previously known as Tradual, has received venture funding from North Bridge Venture Partners in Waltham, MA; Lemont declined to tell me how much the company has raised, but reports last summer pegged the amount at $4 million, of which the company had collected at least $2.4 million. The company has been testing its basic platform on a small, hand-picked group of traders—only about 80, Lemont says. But there are an estimated 1 million to 2 million independent forex traders around the world, and Currensee hopes to rope in a few thousand of them by the end of this year.
Lemont thinks the site will have a viral appeal that will make growth easy. “This is the kind of idea that when you tell people in the trading world about it, they get very excited,” he says. “The proof is in using it, and integrating it into the workflow of how you trade. You can go to a million websites and read all the blogs and the economic news, but we want to provide unique, differentiated information based on real facts about real trades.”
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