Jason Raznick is the founder of the financial news site Benzinga and is a passionate entrepreneur. He founded two successful Internet companies prior to his current and largest company, Benzinga. Raznick has worked for Merrill Lynch, TheStreet.com, and Tricap Holdings.
In the first five months, Benzinga grew to more than 50,000 active members.
Benzinga is a financial media company based out of metro Detroit and currently has more than 3 million readers in more than 125 countries every month. Benzinga provides daily, original content to people interested in financial news. Benzinga also produces real-time tools and applications to give traders and readers an edge once only available to the very elite.
Instead of giving financial advice, Benzinga believes that it gives news to make informed decisions to take control of a person’s financial future. Its strategy is that financial news consumers are dissatisfied with the dinosaurs of financial media and crave a different, more engaging source of information.
Raznick spoke by email with Talking Biz News about Benzinga’s operations. What follows is an edited transcript.
How did you get the idea for Benzinga?
I founded Benzinga a couple years after the 2007-08 financial crisis. I saw friends and neighbors lose money and become disillusioned with the markets. Some suffered an even worse toll because they trusted bad advice online. More than ever, I felt that there a huge information divide between retail investors and institutional investors.
The best way for good folks to get back on their feet was to identify good investment opportunities – especially when valuations were so low. But most people were not empowered with the same information and insights that Wall Street professionals had, so they fell even further behind. Ultimately, Benzinga was created to empower retail investors with high-quality, actionable ideas and information.
How is it different than other financial news sites out there?
Benzinga’s news team always offers unique insights on market-moving stories. From exclusive CEO comments and small-cap perspectives to unearthed information and breaking news — Benzinga reports stories that aren’t found elsewhere. Plus, our analysts provide trading ideas — helping the reader to act on a news event.
Who do you see as your competition, and what are you doing different or better than them?
Our readers have limited time, and there is so much media and information being barraged at them from all directions. Between print media, online content, social media, and TV — it’s a battle for mind share.
The only way to win that battle is to consistently produce content that is so powerful and valuable that our readers are drawn to Benzinga over all of the other media in their lives.
Your site focuses a lot on small or mid-cap stocks. Are those not covered as much by the rest of the financial media?
After 9/11, a lot of small-cap companies popped up that claimed to be in the defense or homeland security space. There was so much mayhem and hoopla. Nobody knew what was real and what wasn’t. I was very active on Yahoo message boards at the time, and I helped the community there to distinguish the real opportunities from the scammers.
I had 3,000 people following my posts and CEOs were contacting me to clarify their businesses. A good majority of the content and news covering these companies could actually be sourced back to PR initiatives and entities with a vested interest. I realized how little quality coverage there was of smaller companies — and that there was a ton of demand for accurate reporting in the space.
I’m proud that Benzinga is a leader in the field.
Who is your core audience?
We cater to long-term investors and traders with a fast growing audience of people who want to learn about the markets. Benzinga Pro, our real-time news and data platform, serves professional traders. The audience ranges from prop desks and hedge funds to day traders and active investors.
Benzinga Pro’s audio news alerts and chat functionality provides value to a wide arrange of audiences. And Marketfy is our educational course platform that serves new to sophisticated investors.
How have your UVs and page views been recently?
We aren’t making our traffic numbers public at this time. I will say that we are very pleased with our growth.
How have you been growing your readership?
First and foremost, we continue to grow our readership by providing valuable information to our audience. This industry thrives on content being shared and as we continue to provide value to our readers, they continue to share it with others. Our distribution partnerships with other websites/brokerages and regular TV appearances are a direct result of how our content’s value continues to lead our growth. We’re also very active in the world of social media and have become a growing resource to those using search engines for research.
How do you generate revenue? Is it strictly via advertising?
We generate revenue via licensing content and data to brokerage platforms, portals, and other web properties; subscriptions to the Benzinga Pro real-time news and data service; and selling advertising.
In addition, Marketfy.com, a newer education property of ours, allows investors to signup for educational courses, top trading newsletters, trading chat-rooms. and other market tools. The marketplace features products and services that are free, one-time buy, or subscription-based.
How many journalists do you have on staff, and how is what they cover determined?
We currently have approximately 15 market analysts on staff – plus dozens of contributors and writers who pitch in. They cover stories that fall into their area of expertise. For example, Matt McCall is one of the world’s foremost experts on ETF investing. Nic Chahine and Adam Beaty write thought-provoking pieces on options trading. And, our real-time team specializes in reporting and breaking news.
How are you expanding that coverage now? What would you like to cover that you’re not?
We have excellent coverage of the US stock market and the global economy. We are looking to expand coverage in global equities and the commodity market.
Where did the name Benzinga come from?
When I was a little kid, I had a speech disorder and went to a speech therapist. Afterwards, my grandfather and I would practice silly, made-up words. Benzinga was one of them – and it stuck in my head ever since. I wanted to use a name that had no particular meaning at first – so that we could create a meaning around it.
How do you decide where to aggregate content from, and where to distribute your content?
We work with companies who live by the same high quality standards that we do, like TD Ameritrade, Microsoft, Nasdaq, etc.