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A Conversation With Pierce Crosby

· FinTech,Trading,Interview

A Conversation With Pierce Crosby

Could you walk me through your career timeline and progression? How did you end up in trading?

  • Initially traded in college

    • Living on the west coast

    • Woke up 5 every morning with interactive brokers account

    • Definitely a great way to learn a lot of lessons, but not a great way to make returns

  • Had this interest in media and telecom

    • Particularly intersection between media and finance

    • Started school in 2007, as financial crisis was happening

    • Fast forward to graduation in 2011, world was in shambles

      • Initially thought he could trade out of recession to make ends meet since there were few jobs out there

  • Halfway through undergrad, discovered passion for journalism

    • But have always been more interested in the business side of operations

    • While at UC Santa Cruz created first broadcast station

      • Responsible for going out and get propositions proposed to university regents

        • In exchange for a couple additional dollars in student costs

        • That budget was created and with that we built the first ever broadcasting station (real-time) to students

        • On-board professor to sponsor program

          • Hired a ton of volunteers, part-time workers, etc.

      • Always the business focus was what attracted him to media

        • Which led him to graduate school

        • Big interest to move to NY for a long time

          • To figure out what to do next

  • Left California straight out of undergrad and went on to masters in journalism at Columbia University with a specialization in data journalism

  • Reuters scooped me up before I graduated, but I was also consulting part-time with a firm called Hennessee

    • But also with a couple early-stage companies looking for people with marketing experience, big need to help people tell their story properly

    • Which I had from journalism experience

  • That paid the bills but Reuters ended up taking more time

    • Within first year, I realized that the scale of progression was fairly linear

    • My boss had been there upwards of 10 years, his boss for 25+ years

      • They sat two desks away from me

      • In reality I was looking at the next 25+ years of my life

  • Joined an early-stage startup to change that

    • Keeping that driving force alive

      • The business behind the scenes was what interested me

  • I was hired as an intern at StockTwits and they very quickly hired me full-time as an analyst, then director, then senior director

    • I took over the partnerships, revenue strategies

    • Ultimately accelerated the growth rate of the business

  • StockTwits was focused on the US equity markets

    • TradingView was more of a global force

      • Offices in NY, but offices all around the world

        • Japan, Singapore, India, Brazil, Germany, France, italy, South Africa

  • So the opportunity here was to help them expand their business practice

  • I’ve always been a trader in the sense that I’m always obsessed with and watching markets

    • Markets are the driving force for a lot of policies

    • It’s been great to follow them his entire career

      • In first capacity as reporter covering markets

      • Second as analyst inside equity reading company

      • Third from global, large-picture, macro perspective

  • What is the hardest thing about trading? And what is your favorite thing?

    • I think the hardest thing is cutting losses for sure

    • Discipline is part of that

      • Having rules in place for a process

      • One reason why I never devoted 100% of my time is that I was always doing something else

      • It’s definitely a discipline-sport

        • Requires high level of expertise

      • I was more of a casual trader, but cutting losses and actually taking profits

        • There are good trades and bad trades

    • The best thing of course is the freedom that comes with it

      • For a brief period I was running my own money to get by

        • Which is an amazing concept, but not something I could do long-term

        • Definitely a great concept in something that definitely drives a lot of retail traders

          • Ie. not having a boss

        • Those who do it definitely spend all their time on trading

    • It’s funny actually, in the journalism world, if you’re a great writer, nobody can say shit to you

      • You run a strong book of business

        • Ie. cover a strong portion of the market

      • If you write very well, there is no reason for folks to come after you

      • There’s great parallel to that freedom

    TradingView has many different resources available, from its charts to its huge community. Could you give a brief overview of what TradingView is and possibly why TradingView over some of the competitors like eToro, or even Bloomberg?

    • Super-high level

      • Most lightweight model that offers high performance technology

      • In previous company, we had a strong tech team but it is nowhere in comparison to TradingView

      • We have over 170 developers who work on this product 24/7

      • That’s one of the big differentiating factors for me

    • We try to provide as much as we possibly can for individual investors

      • We try to make it as cheap as we can for people to get access

      • We have real time data on more than 700 equity exchanges

      • Real time data on macro indicators

        • FX, commodities, ETF

      • Try to offer at an extremely low price

    • That really fits in with my thinking overall

      • People generally need access to information

      • The fact that it isn’t nearly as available as it could be always gets me

    • When I was at Columbia, we had access to Bloomberg terminals

      • All these terminal products cost between 1000-5000 USD per month

      • Our average customer’s monthly cost is around 30 USD

      • Try to be opposite of that expensive model

    TradingView recently implemented a function to retrieve alternative datasets via Quandl. What resources on alternative data has or will TradingView offer?

    • The model is such that the technology we have applies to any dataset

    • So we can really only work with time-series data

      • But the level of data we can ingest is basically infinite

      • We have close to 14 million monthly users

      • We have an insane level of scale

      • The infrastructure is set up

      • I dealt with alternative data at StockTwits and understand the incredible value

        • Especially since a lot of hedge funds have given significant attention to it

      • But we are not moving super fast in it

      • Generally, independent traders or retailer investors aren’t looking for alternative data to enhance their portfolios or strategies

      • PineScript (the proprietary TradingView code) is moving in that direction

        • Anything on Quandl today, you can code into TradingView

        • Can build indicators, alert functions, etc.

      • It’s definitely our move into the space, but the biggest issue is the quality of the data

        • We have data up to the early 1900s, while the more nuanced data sets may only have been available for 6 months, which may not be that useful

    The heart of TradingView lies in education. Are there any initiatives or programming for educational content in the future?

    • We do have some interest in doing more in that space

      • In terms of becoming more consumer friendly

      • What we’re known as is a platform for people who want to trade more seriously

      • We have the audience and the capability to work on things like how to use PineScript, indicators, what are the top 10 most popular technical analysis tools, etc.

        • These are things we can work on

      • I can’t say much about the product roadmap

        • But education is a big part for sure

    TradingView also allows traders to stream. Could you elaborate more about streaming on TradingView?

    • We’ve built one of the first streaming platforms for traders

    • Twitch - very popular game streaming platform

      • Saw that model and thought we could do it ourselves

    • What we’re trying to do is become something closer to the trading floor, just in the digital format

    • We provide the technology, and folks have the opportunity to livestream their daily setups

    • We have over 500 streamers today and it’s just the beginning

      • We’ve only beta tested it but we are planning on launching it soon

    • There are a lot of benefits, from an educational standpoint as well

    • We provide the tools traders can use

    • TradingView is very open-source and people can use our resources as they want

    TradingView has a very active community. If you are a new trader, how would you filter out the valuable information from the rest?

    • One thing that’s different about us is that we don’t allow users to delete their ideas

    • We want to hold people accountable for their trades

    • There are probably around 25 top ideas regarding specific setups or specific levels

    • If I’m particularly interested in this one topic, I can drill a popular user

      • You can go to their profile, see what they trade, what their asset classes are

      • This can differentiate between good traders and bad traders

        • And also people who are trading versus people who are promoting something

      • You can check 5 years of performance

    • We hope to have more on performance analytics as well

      • Share performance

    Was there anything about social trading that was interesting to you, from StockTwits or TradingView?

    • To me, all trading is social trading

      • Even if you are purely algorithmic

      • These machines or systems rely on some capacity on human behavior or psychology

    • TradingView and StockTwits both provide a window into the world of traders’ mentality / psychology

    • I’m a big fan of the crowdsourced model

      • Aggregate estimate of a thousand is better than a single estimate

    • For me, I don’t particularly off of other people’s ideas, like the eToro-type model

      • I’m look at the market and what people are saying overall

    • And that is enough for me to trade

    • It really does give you a clear lens of what people are watching, not watching

      • Talking about and not

    • When we talk about classic finance, there are stories of emergers coming up, bankruptcies, economic data

      • A lot of traders are not watching this

        • They focus on their subsection

        • Maybe SPY futures or VIX options

      • They may lose track of these other parts of the market

      • It’s interesting to see what makes the news, ie what people actually care about

    What are your thoughts on the market and the economy right now?

    • Market does not really reflect the economy

    • A lot of people say that the market is at an all-time high so the economy is doing well

      • I don’t buy that

    • In general we see massive repricing of global interest rates and what that implies is that there is an oversupply of money

    • What the macro picture signals to me is, across the board, there is going to be big dislocations between countries based on their monetary and fiscal policies

      • As a result I do think some countries will be the winners on the other side of this

      • Not specifically because they are economically doing better

      • But specifically their monetary policies are more aggressive

    • I’d say that that is my recent takeaway

    • The economy is in pretty bad shape

      • In NY, people say we’ll be falling back to normal in the coming weeks

      • But normal isn;t really going to start coming back until September or november

      • There’s a huge disconnect between the headlines (reopening in July or June) vs the reality that no one is going to be socializing until the fall comes

      • There are certain places where that may not hold true

        • For example I think travel will see a resurgence

        • I’d also say that more socially distanced activities or events can still take place

          • That reminds me of a funny story

            • As a trader does you get really interested in bizarre occurrences in the equities world

            • There’s a stock called Camping World Holdings

              • Ancient RV company for the boomers, the fundamental data we have on TradingView shows that they were founded in the 60s

              • They would buy these houses on wheels and drive all over the country, etc.

            • The thesis to me is based on historical data

              • I don’t know anyone interested in RV / I don’t think RVs are a trend

            • And yet, since the bottom of the recession, we have seen off the lows, up 600%

            • That to me is really interesting, and i think there will be those outliers

        • I think generally speaking, in the economic sense, it’ll take a full year to get back to speed

          • Even then, the world will be different

    How was traffic on TradingView looked like throughout the course of the pandemic?

    • We don’t like to beat our chest on it, especially during these trying times

    • But we have seen some of our all-time highs

      • Record traffic in March, April, May

      • Don’t really see that slowing down

    • One concern was whether once everyone opened if traffic would decrease

      • But we definitely don’t see any evidence of that

      • People are still at home, very much plugged in

    • It’s become a realization of what we’ve known: we build great products

      • A lot of people didn’t know what we do

    • We don’t do marketing

      • We’re 100% a tech company

      • We wait for users to come to us and try to have them stick around for a long time by building great products

    Have you noticed any change in retail investors’ behavior pre and post pandemic?

    • The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the trading activity

    • We see a lot more active trading

      • Difference in trading volume, but also number of orders

      • More time to trade since everyone is home

      • But also correlated with the 0 commission trend across industry

        • For 80-90% of assets

        • Friction around trading essentially 0

      • But pandemic has definitely amplified that

    TradingView is regularly updated and product-focused. What are some of the short-term goals? Long-term goals?

    • Short-term goals

      • This year: growth goals, etc.

      • But strategic goals are focused on providing educational side of the business

      • That’s the biggest short term goal

    • Long-term goal

      • To be able to do 80-90% of what Bloomberg is able to do

    Written by Gihyen Eom & Edited by Alexander Fleiss

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