Yes, You Do Trust a Computer to Manage Your Money
A weekly status report on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies seeking to up-end the status quo in the markets.
Wealthfront Is No. 1 Online Advisor
Yes, you do trust a computer to manage your money, contrary to skepticism about the concept.
Software-based financial advisory firm Wealthfront has topped the $250 million in assets under management mark, making it the largest of the new breed of online, algorithm-based financial advisory firms. Wealthfront has grown 150% this year.
(Read More: The Facebook Money Wall Street Doesn't Want)
According to the company's own analysis of Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Wealthfront now has more in assets under management than Betterment, Personal Capital,MarketRiders, SigFig, and Motif Investing (which is registered as a broker, not as an investment advisor).
While Wealthfront may now have more in assets under management than Personal Capital, venture capital investors are padding Personal Capital's coffers. This week the company announced a $25 million round of financing led by Crosslink Capital, BlackRock and Institutional Venture Partners. Personal Capital has nearly $200 million in assets under management. The company has raised $52 million in venture funding.
SpaceX IPO: As Far Off In Future as Landing on Mars
Elon Musk's electric car company Tesla has been one of the stock market's brightest stories, defying all the skeptics—as well as a huge short interest in its shares—up nearly 200 percent this year. Another company where he is chairman, solar installer SolarCity, isn't doing so shabby either since its IPO, up 209 percent since its December 2012 offering.
With all that trading success one might think that Musk would be rocketing SpaceX to the investor market. Don't expect Musk's space transport company to try Tesla or SolarCity's luck in the stock market any time soon, though.
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Musk took to Twitter this week to say he had no near term plans for a SpaceX IPO. "Only possible in very long term when Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly," Musk tweeted.
To E-Hail or Not to E-Hail in NYC
The legality of taxi hailing apps like CNBC transportation disruptor Uber has been a back-and-forth legal battle in New York City. On Thursday, the New York County Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing New Yorkers to e-hail, this time, hopefully for good. Specifically, the New York County Supreme Court blocked a restraining order that had questioned the legality of the mobile hailing services.
Mayor Bloomberg said in a press statement, "This decision will allow our e-hail program to move forward, and give New Yorkers another way to hail a cab. Some in the industry want to protect their business interests by blocking the use of new technology – but innovation is good for customers."
Makerbot Making a Deal to Sell Itself?
The fastest-growing maker of 3-D printers may be fast selling itself.
Makerbot has been seeking a new round of financing valuing the company at $300 million, but those discussions also led to interest from potential acquirers, The Wall Street Journal reported.
(Read More: Pandora's Printer: 3-Disrupting)
Makerbot raised $10 million in venture capital in 2011, including an investment from Amazon's Jeff Bezos. It is reportedly seeking to raise another $25 million in venture capital. Makerbot's 3-D printers have revolutionized the manufacturing market by offering technology for as little as $2,000 that allows individuals to create products on their own, though large manufacturing companies are also finding use for Makerbot's printers.
And in news that reflects the changes disruptors are bringing to the market's biggest sectors:
Zynga's Pain is Kabam's Gain?
One of the CNBC disruptors in the travel and leisure sector may have taken notice this week of news from social gaming company Zynga, which announced a 15 percent reduction in its workforce as it continues to struggle after once being the darling of the mobile gaming world and representing as much as 12 percent of Facebook revenue. Kabam is changing the nature of mobile gaming with a free model that offers gamers the option of paying for premium content.
_ By Eric Rosenbaum