The man behind Profit.ly is Timothy Sykes, a brash trader who specializes in shorting overhyped penny stocks. He has built a newsletter and trading education business on his strategies and founded Investimonials, a website that rates investment products. He is also a top-performing model manager on Covestor. “Profit.ly is focused on showing all trades, something that has never been done before,” Sykes says. “This serves two purposes: creating public track records for gurus, newsletter writers and students and allowing everyone to learn from both the wins and losses of other traders to benefit the entire industry.” Profit.ly, which started last year, has tracked more than 100,000 trades of more than 7,000 users who generated $26.5 million in profit. “This is a good start, but my goal is have one million traders sharing their results openly so we have a long way to go and the profits will surely follow,” Sykes says.
Profit.ly is far from perfect. Users do not have to fully disclose all their trades on the site, so they can cherry pick their performance to highlight only their best trades. But the site offers a bizarre incentive for traders to show all their activity … it’s the “Most Madoffed Traders” leaderboard. If Profit.ly users doubt a trade, they can click on the “ Madoff” button — which is an image of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff’s face – to show their disbelief. Traders with the most votes wind up on the Madoffed leaderboard. However, users can remove themselves from the hall of shame by verifying their trades through the site’s Broker Connect feature, which securely imports trading data from the user’s online brokerage account. “In this way our community is self-policing, both good and bad,” Sykes says. Unfortunately for Sykes, the self-policing has backfired on him because he tops the Madoff leaderboard. He claims that two of the specialty online brokers he uses to short penny stocks aren’t compatible with Broker Connect at the moment and “several penny stock promoters are trying to discredit me.” He plans to fix the software to verify all his trades soon.
The site’s transparency doesn’t just help users, it gives Sykes an edge on finding talent for his trading education business. He partnered with stock trader Mark Messier and pharmacist Mike Havrilla, who both generated impressive short-term gains on Profit.ly, to publish a book and DVD series this summer about trading biotech stocks. “Any trader can make claims or point to hypothetical trades. However, people want to follow a proven winner,” says Messier, who along with Havrilla produces the BioRunUp newsletter . “If you are trading well and selling a service, Profit.ly is the best way to prove you can trade. It gives prospective clients a way to look at verified trades from direct brokerage imports and see your performance.” Sykes plans to form a similar partnership with another Profit.ly user next month. He also wants to work with more online brokers to promote Profit.ly. ”We have a relationship with TD Ameritrade and we’re open to working with more brokers,” Sykes says. “But we’re far more interested in crowdsourcing consistently profitable traders and investors who we can help build mentoring/teaching businesses around.”