Splashing With Media Portal Stars at the L.A. Shore

Thom Calandra  |

SAN FRANCISCO -- ​Fresh back from Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, in California, I am sizing up social media portals that are putting their toes in stock market waters and other investment markets.

There is towering talent in Los Angeles.

Nice legs, too.

Take, for one, the beaches, where I saw 30-something Wade Hikock of Avana Capital lapping up waves at 6 a.m. He was splashing in the Pacific, just a light jog south of Santa Monica Pier. Wade used to be a special assignment U.S. Marine sergeant whose 6-foot-6 (that's just a guess) frame and speedball-reflexes helped shield American diplomats and VIPS overseas, including Iraq. 

Nowadays, Wade's special assignment is real estate, investment markets and business development. Avana Capital is an all-in-one lender to real estate investors.

The boardwalks of Santa Monica and Venice Beach are packed with what I call theyoung investor crowd -- ages 18 to 60. That's right: young.

When was the last time you met a 55-year-old who thought he was old? When was the last time you met a 26-year-old (in North America) who did not own a stock or have a retirement account? Even if it was a mostly empty account.

Wade Hickok is on the early end of that investor crowd. He's 35. He looks like he's 25 with full metal jacket. One day he will be my bodyguard. On my private jet.

Wade knows his Santa Monica wave(s).

Get this. The theme here is not Wade. It's about a knowing crowd, let's go further, a fashionable, knowing crowd, who have a metric ton of life experience and talent by the time they are in their early 30s.

These kids are all investing. They're all hooked on social media: Stockr, Equities.com, StockTwits, CEO.ca.

Wade is just an oversized cartoon character example of this. I mean, he speaks Russian eloquently. He has an MBA from UCLA. I assume (perhaps I should not) that Wade knows how to scrap a sniper from a Baghdad ghetto rooftop.

As I said, a smart bodyguard who invests, surfs and plays Vodka-pong. (OK, that part maybe I made up.)

What is it about talented kids (ages 18 to 60) who also demonstrate body-part prowess? In sunny (and parched this spring) SoCal, the native beasts excel at skateboarding, volley-balling, blading, surfing, hackey-sacking.

OK, so that is much the same as 40 years ago, with the exception of rollerblading. And beer-pong.

How about Vinny Jindal? Vinny is a 30-something marathon runner who did lightweight crew at Cal-Berkeley. Oh yeah, he also was a Howard Hughes research fellow. 

He just grabbed a double-doppio redundant coffee drink this morning at a Santa Monica Starbucks before ducking into an elevator for a pitch.

Vinny's CV reads like a Humvee, which I reckon Wade (above) used to drive to dinner in Baghdad or wherever the military was crashing a party during his active duty.   

Vinny: he's operating a social media investor thing in Santa Monica. Hey man, what you up to? Social media, man.

Umm, Dave's not here man.

I met Vinny years ago when he was a biotechnology equity analyst at a San Francisco firm that is no more.

Vinny's graduate thesis in school, one of them, was Effect of Modulators of the Peroxisome-Proliferator Activated Receptor on the Metamorphosis of Xenopus laevis.

(Photo: Vinny Jindal, left, and financial writer Gianni Kovacevik at LD Micro conference in Bel Air section of LA in 2013 – Thom Calandra photo)

Endocrinologists, I tell ya. In school, Mr. Jindal was working on frogs -- an African one in this case.

In Los Angeles, he is ratcheting his media portal for real-time investment junkies who are mostly young and have luchre. My kind of young -- but still, youngish on The CalandraYoung Scale.

Then, it was African frogs. Now, it's investment toads. (Weak, I know.)

All of these fresh sun-splashed faces, all these fresh media portals for us investors. So much promise. So much venture capital to spindle and burn.

Vinny Jindal's thing is Stockr.com, which I use. His angle is building and hopefully selling or sharing social media profiles of Stockr users, who in turn are looking for investment ideas from their peers, who in turn are hanging out on LA piers. 

So I use Stockr.com (see below). It uses me. Very good functionality. Trim and fast. Growing pack of young investment rats. Decent ideas. It's like online dating, only with stocks and kids.

So far, I have had like so many dates at Stockr.

This portalalso looks ripe for celebrities who don't want to get lost in the standing-room-only crowd of Big Brother Twitter.

I met this other bright light of a kid down here at Equities.com. I use Equities.com. It uses me. Equities.com even publishes some of my material.

Equities.com is in one of those two-story fabricated buildings in Marina del Ray, next door to Omni Nutriceuticals.

Nick Bhandari is his name. He's a USC math whiz. Can't be older than 25. I just interviewed him. Nicholas to be formal.

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Nick has this all-star micro-cap portfolio of 300 stocks that has been back-tested with kick-bum returns the past 2 years and 4 months. It is crushing the Russell 2000 performance. That's the index that measures largely north America-listed stocks that are fully reporting to regulators and have the lowest market capitalizations.

It's called Small-Cap Stars Porfolio. The portfolio of 300 stocks is flying so high, even those wave-runners on para-gliders up the beach are beneath it.

Anyway, the article I am working on for delivery sometime soon -- and this one -- are not really about social media portals for investors. Well, in a way, they are. But they are really about how social media portals have in their guts all these young brains formulating and incubating and stirring. And surfing.

Nick specializes in econometrics that use non-linear methods. He's working on his CFA at USC. (Editor: B. B. King.)

For a non-linear methodology guy, the tall (again) Mr. Bhandari sure seems on track. Sitting with him inside Equities.com for two hours, I kept humming to myself keep-your-eyes-on-the-road-and-your-hands-upon-the-oscillator. If our 18-year-old at home had that kind of focus, I'd be thinking vampire or poltergeist.

I was lucky to look inside Mr. Bhandari's Black Box For Beating The Crap Out Of His Peer (Pier) Group With Small-Cap Stars. I would like to do a little more work before I share my thoughts.

From what I see, his algorithm is genuine, unique and capable of consistent outpacing of the larger small-cap micro hood of 2,000 stocks.

Nick also has what are called E.V.A. Reports, for free at Equities.com. I guess to fill in his free time. The EVA Reports graphically transmit and compare company metrics. Equity Valuation Analysis. It's an investment tool that relies on analytics and on data-crunching that Mr. Bhandari does with his Black Box. (See a video of Nick discussing the Small-Cap Stars below.)

If EVA catches on this could become the next big thing for investors who want to pick their stocks on the boardwalk.

In the meantime, as I prepare for a refresh visit to European investors across that other ocean that is not so pacific, I await one of those cute I HAVE ADDED YOU TO MY INVESTING NETWORK come-ons from Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin.

OK, so Cheech & Chong, they're old. Just barely. I am young enough on my TCR Young Scale to know that Stockr, and Equities.com, and a few other of these fresh and floppy investment portals -- such as Vancouver's CEO.ca, maybe San Diego's StockTwits (which already is too cluttered for my taste) --these new doorsare going to make their users, and their backers, ridiculously large sums of money.

Towering. Like that Wade character up there on the beach.

Stay dialed into this TCR Network. We're going to Lisbon for tungsten and gold, then Cape Verde for real estate.






























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