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Trading App Public's CEO: 'Gates Are Wide Open' On Wall Street

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Trading App Public's CEO: 'Gates Are Wide Open' On Wall Street

Jannick Malling, co-founder and co-CEO of the trading app Public, joined Benzinga’s PreMarket Prep show Wednesday to discuss Public’s social trading platform, how the company is protecting inexperienced traders in a volatile market and his personal investing strategy.

Making The Market Social: Public is a commission-free trading app that supports fractional investing in stocks and ETFs.

The biggest barrier to entry for the stock market was never fees or commissions, but a general lack of financial literacy among new investors, Malling said.

As part of the platform, Public integrates a social education layer where users can follow other users’ stock holdings and trades.

“We’ve essentially made the stock market social by building a stock brokerage as a social network,” the CEO said. 

“Everybody has their page where they can see what companies they own. When you make a trade on the platform, you can post it out alongside a little caption, similar to how you post a caption on Instagram, for instance."

Investors who enjoy the “multiplayer experience” of investing within a community might prefer Public to competing trading apps, he said. 

Public's CEO On Protecting Users: Malling also discussed the company's decision in June to shut down trading in bankrupt Hertz Global Holdings Inc (NYSE: HTZ), which has been one of the most popular stocks in recent weeks on competitor Robinhood’s platform.

The turning point was when Hertz said it would raise new capital in a stock offering, the Public CEO said. 

"And so we felt we had a responsibility for our community, which to your point are mainly first-time investors, to make sure they really understood the fact that this is a company that has filed for bankruptcy, and so we essentially put it in liquidation only. And ultimately the regulators came to the same conclusion as us,” Malling said.

Not only was protecting Public’s clients the right thing to do, he said it was also a good business decision for the company.

“Frankly, when we have a lot of new people getting involved in the stock market, the worst thing would be if they get massively burned on their first trade.” 

Malling said the fact that Public had to step in to prevent its users from buying a worthless stock speaks volumes about the state of financial markets. 

“I think it says that we are operating in a totally new era. I think you all remember when trading went online back in the day. I think today the gates are wide open, and I think a lot of people are just looking at top movers and trending algorithms here and there without really knowing it. And I think a lot of people have been caught up in the frenzy of making a quick buck on COVID,” he said.

Watch to the full interview with Jannick Malling in the clip below, or listen to the podcast here

PreMarket Prep is a daily trading show hosted by prop trader Dennis Dick and former floor trader Joel Elconin. You can watch PreMarket Prep live every day from 8-9 a.m. ET Benzinga's YouTube channel, and the podcast is on SpotifyiTunesGoogle PlaySoundcloudStitcher and Tunein.

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