Online broker Motif Investing launches as investors waffle on stocks


Investors might be jumping out of stocks in droves, but that hasn’t dissuaded one new online brokerage startup from launching this week.

Motif Investing launched Monday with a service that allows customers to buy a basket of stocks that focuses on a common theme. For instance, “The Seven Deadly Sins” that includes cigarette or alcohol makers, or “Lots of Likes” that focuses on the most popular companies on Facebook.

It might sound like a gimmick but the San Mateo-based Motif has some heavy hitters behind it. Former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Arthur Levitt is advising the board, and former Bank of America wealth-management honcho Sally Krawcheck signed on to be a director.


Hardeep Walia, a former Microsoft executive, launched the firm as a way to give customers the ability to customize their own investment strategy. The idea is similar to buying an exchange-traded fund or an index fund.

He said investors “need a simple and intuitive way to act on their own investment ideas and create diversified portfolios they can understand.” The company charges a little less than $10 for each transaction.

Motif is also the latest company to marry social networking and investing. Customers can use Facebook to create a network of fellow investors, turning the system into a modern-day version of an investing club.

But investors might not be too anxious these days to share how their portfolios are doing. Stocks continued to slide last week, where some $525 billion poured out of U.S. equities markets. The Dow Jones industrial average suffered its worst day of the year on Friday, and slid another 60 points to start this week off.


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