Sir Jack A Lot is back with a startup for retailers

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When former YouTube product manager Kevin Xu, known on Reddit as “Sir Jack A Lot,” turned $35,000 into $8 million by trading stocks between 2020 and 2022, many thought his luck and his investing method had peaked, just like the Memestock craze of 2021.

Xu disagrees, however, and is now building a startup for retail investors that aims to bring the good-natured investment advice and community that people enjoyed on platforms like the WallStreetBets subreddit, but with a layer of accountability that discourages scammers and fraudsters.

Launched in April 2022, AfterHour lets users link their stock brokerage accounts and post their investments to social feeds under a username of their choice. “The only reason people trust me and Roaring Kitty is because we are transparent,” Xu told TechCrunch. “Why don’t you show your real position or prove that you’re really into something? (AfterHour) brings back a level of credibility and trust. You connect your brokerage and share the actual verified position and screenshots.”

The company currently has more than 23,000 users, and while that’s not a staggering number by any means, its user base is growing, and early adopters seem dedicated — Xu said more than 70% of its users visit the app every day. Xu said the company is currently focused on growth, but is planning ways to monetize in the future.

“Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the game,” Xu said. “When we started, I was very afraid it would be quiet on the weekends, but on Monday, people just come back. We don’t give any fraudulent push notifications to get people to come back on Monday, but they come back naturally.”

The startup recently raised a $4.5 million seed round led by Founders Fund — Keith Rabois’ last investment in the firm — and General Catalyst. Pear VC, Daybreak Ventures, and F4 Fund, among many others, also participated. Xu said AfterHour is now focused on growing its user base and its team.

Xu believes that letting users be pseudo-anonymous is the way AfterHour works. He recalled that he found it weird to think about his colleagues at YouTube talking about stock trading during their off-hours, and he thinks he’s not alone in feeling that way.

But on the other hand, he admits that an environment that encourages zero accountability is not a good idea for a platform like his. This dynamic gives rise to the fraudsters and scammers that appear on Reddit and X, looking to pump and dump their positions or post fake trades to get other people to invest.

He said that since people can only post their actual trades, it weeds out a lot of the bad guys. Of course, there will be some bad guys, but Xu said the startup monitors posts, and flags anything suspicious with a system of warnings and community notes — not unlike Xe’s community-based approach to moderation.

Xu acknowledged that such monitoring systems will no longer be effective as the platform continues to expand. “Right now I’m basically in the app reminding people that independent thinking is sexy,” Xu joked. He said the company is working on a plan to curb bad behavior, and is considering ideas such as an algorithm that could automatically flag posts that look fake.

This deal stood out to me because I think it’s a smart move to create services for retail investors. The trajectory of this sector reminds me a lot of the crypto world. While very different, they are both investment sectors that had their 15 minutes of fame, but as they faded from the mainstream, they still maintained dedicated and growing communities of people interested in their approach.

Still, AfterHours is a particularly smart idea because, like crypto, there’s a lot of money to be made — and just as much to be lost. Such platforms can’t guarantee that their users will find financial success, but that doesn’t mean ordinary people should be completely excluded from the stock markets, which companies like Robinhood and, more recently, Destiny Tech 100 have worked to democratize.

“The biggest misconception in the Valley was that retail trading was a fad in 2021,” Xu said, referring to the stimulus checks. “It’s only increasing. The data supports that.”

For context, 2023 was the most active year ever for retail trading. Robinhood saw over $86.6 billion in trading in May alone.

Afterhours isn’t the only company to understand the potential of this space – Robinhood’s media expansion is a good example. The trading app bought the Snacks newsletter, focused on retail investors, in 2019. More recently, it launched Sherwood Media, a financial publication aimed at the same audience.

Although he started with the stock market, Xu hopes AfterHours will branch out into other areas of finance and become a one-stop-shop for retail investors in the future.

“Afterhours must exist,” Xu said. “I look at the Internet of Finance and how it’s evolving, and I’m disappointed by all the other attempts (to create a similar platform). They were just hopeless.”

I’m really thinking long-term. I want it to be fun and accessible. I think it’s more entertaining than sports, and I think an increasing number of people online do as well.”

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