23. Motif Investing

Investing your way

Founder: Hardeep Walia
Date launched: 2010
Funding: $126 million
Industries disrupted: Financial services, investing

Most retail investors put together portfolios based on specific asset classes or investing styles. Motif Investing lets you get a little more personal. The San Mateo, California-based online brokerage enables investors to build stock and bond portfolios focused on themes or "motifs," such as online gaming, big data or even robotic revolution. Investors can create their own motifs or invest in those already created.


A motif such as high spirits, for example, contains up to 30 stocks in the beverage and spirits industries, each researched and weighted to their exposure to the theme. The commission to buy or sell one motif is $9.95. In March the company partnered with insurance giant Pacific Life to focus on an often hard-to-reach demographic: millennials. These 20-something investors will now have the chance to invest in four different cause-driven investment themes, including improving education and ending poverty.

The company, started in 2010 by former Microsoft executive Hardeep Walia, has attracted $126 million from some big-name investors, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Chinese social networking company Renren. The board of directors boasts former SEC chairman Arthur Levitt and former Boston Consulting Group chairman Carl Stern.

Hardeep Walia, co-founder and CEO of Motif Investing
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Hardeep Walia, co-founder and CEO of Motif Investing
"All of us think thematically about investing. But there were no products for the best ideas, and the fees were outrageous. Motif was born." -Hardeep Walia, Motif Investing CEO

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