Jeff Myers launched Gatsby with the intention of helping young investors take risks with the investments that they make in a way that will help them get ahead in their portfolios. The company was founded with the idea that no one should have to feel modest about their investments, and draws inspiration from the wealthy literary character in helping consumers feel more confident in their investments. We spoke with Myers, one of the co-founders of the company, on what’s in store for its future.
Grit Daily: You and Ryan had your own adventures before Gatsby. Share those.
Jeff Myers: This is our second company. The first one, Dealtable.com, was a social data room platform with secure document sharing for private placements. We sold the company in 2018 and I swore to myself never to start an enterprise sales team again. We like building consumer products, where we can interact with and build a community of users. Much more fun.
And this was around the same time that we started getting really into trading options personally. I loved being able to bet against companies. Maybe I’m a pessimist.
GD: What’s behind the Gatsby name?
JM: The character of Jay Gatsby wasn’t apologetic about his wealth. I think young investors are conditioned by fintech platforms to speak modestly about their ambitions and their financial goals. Gatsby is where you can really go for it. Take risks with opportunities to actually move the needle. Options give you leverage, and that’s powerful.
GD: For the uninitiated, what are “long options?”
JM: Options contracts are agreements between two parties that give each party the right to buy or sell an underlying asset, like a share of stock or an ETF, at a certain price on a certain date. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. When buying an option, you chose a date and a strike price that you predict a stock will move to (or above or below, depending on if it’s a call or put). It’s similar trading stocks in the sense that you can buy and sell the contract at any time, as long as there is a bid on the option, and don’t necessarily need to wait until the expiration date. But it’s very different than trading stocks, giving you more leverage in your strategies, and the ability to be bullish, bearish, or express an opinion about volatility.
GD: What trends are underway that suggest younger generations are into it?
JM: Options are exploding right now. Let’s start there. Equity options volumes have been off the charts each month of 2020. And young investors, who have demonstrated that they have a higher risk tolerance and an interest in understanding more sophisticated investing tools, have taken ahold of them. E*Trade released a study that shows almost half of investors under the age of 34 are trading more derivatives in 2020, compared to just 30% of older traders trading more this year. There’s no doubt that young investors have fallen in love with trading options.
GD: What are your plans to explore equity trading and “covered calls?”
JM: Both are on our roadmap. We wanted to start with the most approachable options strategies, and then expand as our traders guide us on what they want. We’ll be launching spreads next month, and equities shortly after. We want Gatsby to be a robust brokerage platform, but with an interface that at its core is unintimidating and beautiful.
We’re also working on something I call an adaptive interface, where depending on the characteristics each trader exhibits, we will introduce new features and strategies into the interface. For example, if you appear to our algorithm to be a very experienced trader, we’ll show you more advanced research tools that a more novice trader would not want to see yet.
GD: We’ve long surmised at Grit Daily that women make better traders than men, on the whole. What’s your take?
JM: Our user base is more male than female but the returns are more female than male.
GD: What’s one unconventional wisdom about options that’s just plain wrong?
JM: Some people think that ‘no commission’ is a bad thing. I hear it a lot in the messaging from legacy brokerage platforms. ‘You get what you pay for.’ But the neo-brokerage model, behind the scenes, is similar. Almost every brokerage in America makes money through providing liquidity to market makers or exchanges. Whether the brokerage charges the end user a commission or not, they drive revenue with the liquidity as well. Neo-brokerages, though, don’t have high overheads, like brick and mortar locations. They are more technology driven, leaner and more agile. And because they don’t charge commissions, can scale to a larger community of traders. This makes the no-commission model work, and it’s great for the trader.