From Dotcom Survivor to Facebook of Finance? Clem Chambers discusses ADVFN's future in social investing online

Friday, Jan 28 2011 by
From Dotcom Survivor to Facebook of Finance Clem Chambers discusses ADVFNs future in social investing online

Clem Chambers of ADVFN is a busy man, and for most investors that use financial websites he will need little introduction.  As the CEO of the £40m valued AIM group of financial websites, he has shepherded the company from the wreckage of the dotcom bubble through to their 2 millionth registered user a decade later.  Along the way the company has expanded internationally to reach almost £9m in sales and show a profit for 2010.   In spite of this, he has still found the time to write a trilogy of financial thrillers. Stockopedia caught up with him this week to check that his eyes are still on the ball and that the muse hasn't overtaken his desire to lead ADVFN on into the next decade.

ADVFN was launched at the genesis of the internet - how did it come about?

 It's a long story, it came out of the internet incubator  Online Plc  which I founded in 1990 and floated in 1995 -  we incubated ADVFN and I came into the company originally as the 'marketing director',  taking it through the float, raising all the money and then going about the development of the site.   Online Plc did a few listings but then the dotcom bubble burst and in the post apocalyptic period of 2001 to 2004 we focused on ADVFN.  I became CEO around that time in 2002 and to keep the wolf from the door we did a few more equity raises at ridiculously low prices as the market was so terrible. It was a pretty horrific and long process, but over that period ADVFN went from blue sky flotation to doing £1m in sales, £3m by 2004, £6m by 2007 and now we are up around just shy of £9m in revenues.

You've recorded consistent revenue growth since then in spite of 2 bear markets. How critical is the health of the stock market for the business?

 We effectively run a diversified portfolio.  We are diversified across countries, and across product types.  Advertising tends to be strong at times when subscriptions are weak.  Geographically, we have a big footprint in Brazil, the US, the UK and upcoming territories in Europe.  Brazil was absolutely flying away 3 years ago, but then all the Private Investors (PIs) there were annihilated by the crash, they've regenerated themselves somewhat, but then you've got the UK where most PIs…

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ADVFN plc is a United Kingdom-based company, which is engaged in the development and provision of financial information primarily through the Internet, research services, and the development and exploitation of ancillary Internet sites. The Company offers stocks and shares information Website. The Company operates through two segments: provision of financial information and other services. It is involved in the provision of financial broking services and other Internet services not related to financial information. It provides stock price data from approximately 80 stock exchanges across the globe, which includes Athens Indices, Athens Stock Exchange, Australian Stock Exchange, Bombay Stock Exchange, Brazil Bovespa Exchange, New York Stock Exchange, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shenzhen Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Helsinki Stock Exchange, Hercules Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Swiss Indices, Tokyo Stock Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange. more »

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5 Comments on this Article show/hide all

cherry 29th Jan '11 1 of 5

Very interesting insight into Clem Chambers.

The most interesting is his strange reaction to legal letters.

Considering the fact that he allows a poster with numerous identities to post lies about the CEO of Nostra Terra Oil and Gas, and its investors, on ADVFN - you'd think he would want to cultivate a better image.

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cherry 31st Jan '11 2 of 5

Inidentally, as I understand it, the CEO of NTOG DID have better things to do - he had to deal with all the complaints from investors and brokers reading the diatribes against the company - mainly emanating from the numerous identites operating on Clem's poorly moderated ADVFN discussion board.

He then reported his findings to the FSA.

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Darrren 9th Feb '11 3 of 5

Freedom of Speech Cherry
I contribute on ADVFN and III and yes there are rampers etc on there ,as there are in every part of financial services. They are easily identified and moderated by other users like me. Companies are generally rubbish as giving private investors information = thats the problem .The boards are great for getting information and other views however strange a few are. The fact brokers and investors were reading the boards proves they are useful.

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snickers 27th Feb '11 4 of 5

Time for some quick book reviews.. Clem Chambers does quite snappy journalism, so what about his novels?

The Armageddon Trade is aimed at the bulletin board crowd, and involves 2 characters designed to first flatter and then awe them. Cockney sparrer Jim is a genius at technical analysis - drawing lines on charts with a fat pen - he can basically can see into the future. He makes a ton of money. Max Davas is also clairvoyant, but with the aid of market-modelling supercomputers in his Venetian palace. The young and the old man agree that the end of the world is nigh. Islamists and the CIA pitch up, and the shooting starts. It reminded me of a very bad Denzel Washington time-travel film (Deja Vu) from a few years ago: garish and badly arranged, a bit like the homepage of his website :-) but you have to read the book in order to appreciate the follow-up:

The Twain Maxim is a sight better. Jim makes a ton more money, but his powers are only a McGuffin to pitch him into a pump'n'dump mine scam, described in toe-curling detail (I write as a holder of a couple spec buys: not quite diamonds in the Congo, but I can see similarities: the newsflow massaged to keep investors keen, the vague promises of exotic elements, the incomprehensible geological jargon, the extra parcels of exploration rights 'in for free'..) Those bête noirs of the bulletin boards, the MM's, are surprisingly let off the blame: instead the share price is manipulated by the mine owner and his institutional investor front companies. A book with an embossed cover needs a big climax: here it involves a volcano and a lot of secret agent gadgets. Chambers clearly loves technology, whatever it does.

Chambers is a real optimist: Davas, it turns out, is working informally with the US government: subtly-but-massively intervening to keep the dollar intact, and prop trading desks in London are under orders from MI6 to support crashing markets.. And any project to replace the dollar with mineral-backed assets is doomed to fail: there's just an unlimited amount of undiscovered stuff still in the ground.

One other observation he makes in the interview is the predictive powers of bulletin boards. Clearly his access to the data, and his non-zillionaire status, suggests these powers are limited. Still, it's a tempting notion. I'm trying an analysis of them myself: a mania index. I shall post a bank statement should it translate to vast riches.

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snickers 28th Mar '11 5 of 5

And, following the last post, here is the result. I'm calling it Technical Banalysis, because it doesn't tell you a damn thing. The picture shows 6 weeks of share movements [the dots] against my own measure of board quality [the squares]. I picked some more and some less flaky companies to analyse.

Method: perhaps I won't mention the site I used: there seems to be a convention here of calling other discussion sites 'another place'. legal caution or frustrated political ambition?.. whatever, it isn't this site: far too little mud slinging, & long may it stay this way... What I've done is to parse [with javascript] the 40 most recent posts on each board, sifting out things like sentence length, spelling errors, punctuation-overuse, post-frequency, how much mutual-appreciation there was, txt-speak. I used measures from good quality journalism as a ideal, and scored the postings against that, using the bell curve: so deviations from ideal rapidly lost marks. unfortunately my code couldn't get hold of the smileys, a dead giveaway of nutcase contributions..



What can we see? for most there's no pattern. Boo. but I think a few just might show a trend: look at the goldie African Eagle, the iron prospector Baobab [goal!], and Cadogan. it seems a rising price calms the scribblers down [Clem Chambers' observation, I suppose].. while a falling one causes a drop in their command of English. Or, if you like, they prefer a howl of pain to a whoop of joy. They groan loudly, but gloat only in silence, or at least do it with better grammar.

Sadly I see no pre-emption, no mass shivers of anticipation..

Upgrading to Firefox 4 has rendered my code inoperative, and so brought this experiment to a grateful close..

All conclusions are imvho and fwiw, and of course gla ;-P rofl.

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