A New York start-up that seeks to combine the excitement of online investing with the fun of online gaming -- now there's an intriguing combination -- has just scored a round of venture funding worth $12.58 million, according to investment research firm CB Insights. Stereo Scope Inc., an interactive media company founded in March 2008, is developing an online investing platform called Kapitall. Its goal is to "democratize the world of investing much in the way Apple popularized personal computing and the Wii broadened the reach of gaming."
The premise behind Kapitall is to make the world of online investing less confusing and more fun, starting with a "drag and drop" investing interface, as well as intuitive research tools. Not sure if this means no more wading through tedious 10-Qs and balance sheets, but anything that makes the financial research process less confusing (not to mention boring) for amateur investors has got to be a good thing. The gaming part comes into play with competition between other "Kapitallists," so in addition to being invested in your own bottom line, your ego gets invested in trying to beat other players. Interesting concept. Stereo Scope says Kapitall requires no membership fees, minimums or brokerage account. Kapitall currently is looking for beta testers. Based in New York's Soho District, Stereo Scope's management team comes from a variety of industries, including gaming, media, design and, of course, finance. Chairman Michael Haller has two decades of experience in the video game and Japanese anime industries. Most recently he was vice president at Electronic Arts. Bonus fun fact: Haller also was a diplomat in the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for eight years. (Wonder if he authored any cables being WikiLeaked about these days?) No details on where the latest funding round comes from, but Stereo Scope landed $5 million in angel funding last July from a group of private investors, including Haller and two other board members. (FYI, if you're really into tracking start-up funding deals on a daily basis, CB Insight's FundingFlash is a great resource. It's not free, but it is comprehensive.)
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.