Motown Records of the Financial Web

Before there even was a financial web, there was

Before Yahoo Finance had 23 million users, before there were blogs, before there was any real online trading worth mentioning, before anyone was doing market-related stuff on the web (mainstream media included) – there was  November of 1996 to be exact, I became a reader in July 1997 when I began studying for my Series 7.

The remarkable thing about, however, is not that they were so early.  To me, the real story is about the sheer amount of talent that’s been through that site over the years.  When you think about today’s market punditry, so many of the top voices are alums of it’s mind-blowing.

An obvious comparison from the music business comes to mind: is the Motown Records of the financial web.

James Cramer, the Berry Gordy figure in my analogy, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Like Gordy’s Motown Records, the power was in the roster, not in any one star.  The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, The Supremes, The Temptations and the Jackson 5 were all stars, but they were also extremely fortunate enough to share the production, songwriting and accompaniment that only Hitsville, USA could provide them with.  What made TheStreet so vital was the idea that you could read so much intelligent commentary from so many columnists in one place.

Over the last 14 years, some of the best financial writers and market comentators ever have written for TheStreet.  What was cool and original about TheStreet’s roster was that they had practioners mixed in with real journalists.  Traders, analysts and hedge fund managers were mixed in with hard-hitting reporters, no one was doing anything like it.  The concept was way before its time and when combined with the real-time aspect, market participants like myself fell in love, preferring it to newspapers and magazines.

Below is a list of some of these TSC writers off the top of my head.  It is by no means comprehensive but it should give you a good idea of how ridiculously great their roster has been over the years…

James Cramer – The first financial blogger.  No matter what anyone says about him, they can’t take that.  Cramer’s greatest strengths as a commentator are his openness and his honesty.  They are also his greatest weakness as he leaves himself vulnerable to the second-guessing and nastiness that are in such large supply on the web.

Herb Greenberg – Was the first to be doing the type of investigative market journalism online that thousands are now imitating.  You can see him now on CNBC and on the Net Net blog.  Greenberg has been listening to the epithet “tool of the short-sellers” forever, meanwhile the list of bad apple companies whose shenanigans he uncovered is endless.

Paul Kedrosky – Those economic and financial linkfests everyone is doing these days?  Kedrosky owned it and did it for TSC better than most.  Paul brought an eclecticism and an eye for off-the-beaten path stories that kept things interesting, even in monotonous markets.  He can now be found at his site Infectious Greed.

James Altucher – I met him for the first time last week, it was like being at Disney World and seeing Mickey Mouse.  I’ve been reading Altucher’s stuff for almost 10 years, he’s one of the most clever and ubiquitous financial writers in the game and a pioneer of online punditry.  I’d tell you where you could read his work now but the list would go on forever.  For an up-and-comer like myself, Altucher is the model.

Barry Ritholtz – The biggest and best financial blogger in the world, hands down. Barry did some incredible work at TheStreet writing his Apprenticed Investor column there.  Those of us who were young in the business when he began writing it learned so many of the great market lessons and truisms from his stuff.  Barry left TheStreet and ramped up his own site The Big Picture and the rest is history.

Doug Kass – Doug was always my favorite writer at TheStreet and when RealMoney Silver launched, he was the only reason I shelled out the big bucks for a yearly subscription.  His column, The Edge, is one of the most insightful and interesting market journals out there, day in and day out.

Gary B. Smith – The internet’s original Chart Man, Gary was doing technical analysis in a mainstream, entertaining way before most of today’s bloggers were out of middle school.  He can be seen on Fox News’ Bulls and Bears program, which used to be about stocks but has now become about tax reform and labor unions, unfortunately.

And there are so many more current and former TSC contributors who warrant mention here…

  • Cody Willard (telecom & technology, now at MarketWatch)
  • Eric Jackson (activism, writes Breakout Performance blog)
  • Daniel Dicker (energy, oil stocks, MLPs)
  • Todd Harrison (trading, founded Minyanville)
  • Tony Crescenzi (bond market/econ commentary, now at Miller Tabak)
  • Howard Simons (futures and derivatives)
  • Bill Luby (options, now writes Vix and More blog)
  • David Merkel (bonds and stocks, now writes the Aleph Blog)
  • Lauren LaCapra (banks, financial services, regulation)
  • Aaron Task (editor-at-large, now hosts Yahoo Tech Ticker)
  • John Markman (swing trading, now at MSN Money)
  • Helene Meisler (technical analyst based in Asia)
  • James “Rev Shark” DePorre (swing trading, small caps)
  • Roger Nusbaum (investing, now writes Random Roger blog)
  • Eric Oberg (Goldman alum, leveraged ETF debunker)
  • Michelle Leder (filings, founded
  • Whitney Tilson (value stocks, now manager T2 hedge fund)
  • Dave Kansas (former editor, now at WSJ)
  • Lenny Dykstra (just kidding)
  • Don Luskin (also just kidding)
  • Marek Fuchs (financial media, humor)
  • Jeff Matthews (markets, now a Buffett stalker and eponymous blogger)
  • Dagen McDowell (mutual funds, now on Fox Business)
  • Tim Connolly (stocks, now at Sconset Capital)
  • Vincent Farrell (stocks and strategy)
  • Jim Jubak (stockpicking, now at MSN Money)
  • Jason Raznick (now at Benzinga)
  • Adam Feuerstein (biotechs, healthcare)
  • Adam Lashinsky (technology, now at Fortune)
  • Don Dion (ETFs)
  • Dave Peltier (small caps)

The list goes on and on, I’m sure I’ve missed some great writers who have contributed there along the way.

Many of Motown’s great recording artists ultimately branched out and did their own thing.  In like fashion, many of TheStreet’s writers have moved on to blogging on their own and mainstream media gigs.

It’s almost impossible to go through a day in the market without coming across the opinion of at least one alum of  That is a testament to how much amazing talent that site has spawned since its beginnings.

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