Traders, institutional investors, research analysts - really, who doesn't want to be able to see the latest news related to companies in which they've invested in or might want to invest? The challenge is being able to sift through the oceans of data available via news services, national and local publications, email newsletters, websites, blogs and social media to see the most relevant news the instant it happens, and be able to tell at a glance whether it's time to buy, sell or hold. A growing group of vendors, including veterans FirstRain and Monitor110 and newcomer SkyGrid would like to help you meet this challenge.This afternoon, I met Kevin Pomplun, the youthful CEO of SkyGrid. The first extraordinary fact he shared about his company, which came out of stealth mode in February, is that famed venture capitalist Tim Draper and journalist/commentator/entrepreneur/philanthropist Esther Dyson are seed investors. The coup of attracting the backing of these two high-profile proponents is sure to win the company a lot of free press.
The semi-startup (it was started in 2005) is focused on delivering targeted news for investment banks and hedge funds. The interface of SkyGrid's hosted software (priced at $500 per user per month, with volume discounts available) vaguely resembles a Bloomberg terminal and was built on the Adobe Flex development platform. In a demo, the bulk of the screen was taken up with a basic, fast-moving feed of news pertaining to the user's choice of companies in an industry sector or a stock portfolio, presented by order of date or emotional rating (positive or negative). Pomplun won't specify the sources SkyGrid draws from except to say that there are millions of them. Proprietary algorithms are used to perform searching, categorization and sentiment analysis, which tries to determine whether an article is positive or negative. Articles and blogs considered to be good news appear in green, negative stories are coded red, white is neutral. Next to the news feed, graphs can be set up to show changes in sentiment for any company or sector for the past one to three quarters.
FirstRain and Monitor110 do many of the same things SkyGrid does. The one clear differentiator I see for SkyGrid is its slick, trader-friendly interface, which can even be reduced down to the size of a widget on a trader's monitor -- a nice feature for trading floors, where screen real estate is a precious commodity.