I love companies chasing ambitious goals or finding unique ways to solve a problem. It’s rare to find both. So when I do, I like to write about it.
Bloomberg is the market leader in investment research. In 2021, it generated $11.6 million in revenue. It was founded in 1981, 41 years ago. It dominates this industry because it has really big data moat. It’s a one stop stop for data.
The company we are diving into today, OpenBB, is taking on Bloomberg. The founder, Didier Lopes, was kind enough to do an interview with me. I’ll provide a brief overview of the company, why it’s exciting and dive right into the interview.
OpenBB is building the modern investment research platform. They’ve raised $8.5 million to date from investors like Naval Ravikant, Elad Gil and OSS capital. At the moment, they have three products: a terminal application, an SDK and a bot.
With the terminal, you can type in commands to receive data or graphs, like the one shown below.
For now, the platform is free and is completely open source.
I’m sure you’re wondering why an application focussed on the financial services industry looks like a dev tool. I did too, but I’ll save that for my interview with Diego.
I was intrigued by OpenBB for a few reasons:
- I’ve felt the pain of investment research myself.
- It’s a massive market.
- Their approach is unique: being open-source in financial services is not common. Building a terminal based application is pretty wild.
Let’s dive right in to my conversation with Didier.
Interview with Didier Lopes, CEO
How did you come with the idea for OpenBB?
I started OpenBB because of my own pains with financial data. I’d worked as a software engineer for a while and wanted to invest some of my savings.
I decided to spend some time on weekends trying to figure out what to invest in. I quickly realised that information was sparse and all over the place. Go to each website, grab a screenshot, put into a report and then analyse.
The data simply didn’t feel accessible enough and I decided I wanted to fix that.
What is your vision for the product?
For me, every single person is impacted by wealth. The ability to invest efficiently can change your life.
It’s not just about the wealthy having access to more financial data. Either directly (e.g. a Bloomberg subscription is expensive) or via an intermediary (e.g. financial advisor). It’s about the fact that having the best tools and data available for investment research should be a human right since we share the same economic system.
I want to democratise investment research, and improve the experience (regardless of background or wealth) of users doing research.
How did you get started?
Due to Covid, I was stuck at home during Christmas. I started building an MVP and finished it over 2 months.
How did you raise capital?
I had an unusual path for raising money. Given our open source approach and the traction we got, investors like OSS capital reached out with interest because they loved our mission and what we stood for
Why are you building open source?
One of my key principles is to make the data on the platform accessible and transparent. Given the depth and scale of financial data, I realised you need a community-led approach for development.
We will only succeed with ther contribution from the tech and financial services community. At the moment, we are focussed on adoption as we want to build the best investment research platform out there. Our open source nature has been a great way to attract users, interact with the community, receive feedback and iterate fast.
The beauty of an open source project is that you have all the customisability you may want. For example, if you wanted only a part of OpenBB, you can fork the repo and build your own personal investment research terminal on top of it.
How do you think about visual and text based interfaces?
In the future, I believe people will be able to just ask in a prompt what they are interested. I actually wrote a detailed blog post about this.
Our interface is terminal based at the moment. We are very conscious that this is often not the preference for finance folks. However, we’ve found that they are able to grasp the tool quite quickly. We focussed on integrating with more data sources in the early days - this meant prioritising backend development (namely the SDK), which will allow us to focus on building a better interface now. One of our engineers has built an app on the weekend on top of it - which you can find here.
Do you see AI playing a big role in your product?
Today we’re actually announcing on product hunt our ML/AI Toolkit and would appreciate people upvoting us.
With the OpenBB ML / AI Toolkit you will be able to forecast asset prices utilizing state-of-the-art ML models. These can be trained by combining multiple financial time series, and allows feature engineering. For example, you could use an ML model to predict the price of the Apple combining a variety of sources: financial data, google search interest, consumer price index, or even bitcoin.
I’m going to be watching OpenBB closely. I enjoyed my chat with Diego mostly because it’s rare to find a founder who stumbled upon an idea without having any intention of starting a company. He’s passionate about the mission and the approach is novel. You can try OpenBB for yourself here.