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44. Motif

Custom-designed trading

Founder: Hardeep Walia
Launched: 2010
Funding: $126 million
Valuation: $436.4 million
Disrupting: Financial services, investing
Rival: E*Trade


Hardeep Walia, founder and CEO of Motif Investing
Source: Motif Investing
Hardeep Walia, founder and CEO of Motif Investing

Motif (formerly Motif Investing) lets investors have it their way. Instead of putting together portfolios based on specific asset classes or investing styles, this San Mateo, California-based online brokerage enables investors to build stock and bond portfolios focused on themes or "motifs." Think pet care is a solid niche? Motif has Pet Passion, which invests in public companies in veterinary care, pet supplies and pet retail.

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Investors can also choose motifs based on a trading strategy such as "buy the dip." Each motif contains up to 30 stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and every company is researched and weighted to their exposure to the theme. Can't find a motif that really speaks to you? Create your own. The commission to buy or sell one motif is $9.95.

Former Microsoft executive Hardeep Walia started the company in 2010 when he wanted to invest in the "mobile internet" and everyone kept telling him to simply buy Apple. He wanted something broader than that, and soon Motif was born.

The company has more than 200,000 users and has attracted $126 million from some big-name investors, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Chinese social networking company Renren. Recognizing the volatility of the market recently, Motif is working on offering investors auto-hedging, which will allow anyone to buy a motif and then customize it to reflect whatever they're concerned about — or want to hedge.


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