The "power to the people" money-management experiment is picking up steam, but only time will tell if that's a good thing.
Monday saw the launch of a new
, where Main Street investors can play Wall Street titans by picking a $1 million stock portfolio -- with play money, of course. But instead of picking stocks for their own edification and education, this exercise could lead to a job running a fund.
In trying to bring meritocracy to the markets (hence the name), the shop plans to launch a fund that will be co-managed by the five best stock pickers in each industry sector over the next three years, according to its Web site. Eventually the Los Altos, Calif.-based firm hopes to launch a fleet of funds run by the most talented amateurs on its site. While the concept is intriguing, only time will tell if wannabe managers are a good investment.
"What if you were one of the best investors in the world, and no one knew it?" says a site headline.
To simulate the job of running a fund, real-world concerns like trading costs and a stock's liquidity will factor into each hypothetical portfolio's performance. Investors will not be able to sink more than 25% of their fund into a stock, and customers will have access to graphic measures of the portfolio's performance and volatility, relative to the pros and their fellow amateurs.
The idea belongs to Ken Kam, who runs Marketocracy.com and the hit-or-miss biotech fund,
Ingenuity Medical Specialists fund, now renamed
Marketocracy Medical Specialists
. He's probably best-known for co-founding the successful
in 1994, which has produced boffo returns by recruiting tech stock pickers from industry ranks instead of Wall Street hallways. This time, Kam might be late to the game.
Several other firms, including
MutualMinds.com both have funds that, to varying degrees, use amateurs' picks.
is also mulling a fund that buys its top amateur analysts' picks.
Community Intelligence fund is up 39.1% since Jan. 1, beating nearly all of its large-cap growth peers. It's worth noting, however, that pros pick stocks from amateurs' picks and investors haven't embraced the fund, which has less than $10 million in assets. The Culver City, Calif.-based firm is also
losing its chief investment officer.