This story is part of "The rise of retail investing," a Protocol Manual. Read more here.
Andy Rachleff <span>Wealthfront</span>
A former Benchmark venture capitalist who backed companies like eBay and Juniper Networks, Rachleff co-founded Wealthfront to bring algorithmic, automated wealth management tools to retail investors. He teaches at Stanford's business school and writes on the Wealthfront blog and for Forbes and Fast Company, with must-read insights ranging from how to pitch your startup to the inner workings of interest rates.
Sarah Levy <span> Betterment </span>
Levy became Betterment's CEO in December when founder Jon Stein stepped down, saying "the time has come for someone else to lead the company through its next stage of growth." Levy is a veteran media executive who spent most of her career at Viacom after getting her start at Disney. She's also on the board of Funko, the buzzy maker of pop-culture figurines.
Yoshi Yokokawa <span> Alpaca </span>
Originally from Japan, Yokokawa wants to provide international investors with easy ways to trade U.S. equities. Alpaca, which originally provided AI technology to financial firms, now provides trading services for developers, hedge funds or fintech companies internationally that want to access U.S. stocks through an API. He wants to "offer investment access to every person on the planet."
Sallie Krawcheck <span> Ellevest </span>
Krawcheck saw Wall Street from the inside, starting as a research analyst covering the big banks, rising to CFO at Citi and running Merrill Lynch's wealth management business. In 2015, she struck out on her own and started Ellevest, a financial investing and coaching service whose algorithms are designed around women. She's one of LinkedIn's top influencers and a board member of Time's Up.
Khurram Agha <span> Aghaz Investments </span>
CEO, Aghaz Investments
After two decades in tech at Microsoft and Oracle, Agha blended his Wharton MBA and his beliefs as a practicing Muslim to start Aghaz, which offers halal investing services in the form of a roboadvisor. Islamic beliefs include a prohibition on riba, or interest, which has required rethinking standard industry practices. Eventually, Agha hopes to offer a full spectrum of values-based investing services, but for now, he's hoping to address the financial needs of millions of American Muslims.
Vlad Tenev <span> Robinhood </span>
Tenev is at the helm of the trailblazing but controversial app that spooked Wall Street and regulators recently. He took a lot of heat for Robinhood's handling of the GameStop trading frenzy. But things seem to be looking up for the startup: Its investors backed it with capital at a critical moment and it's now filed to go public. And Tenev, who struggled to defend the company at first when he went on TV, is now sounding more upbeat in Twitter posts and Clubhouse appearances.
William Galvin <span> Mass. </span>
Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
If Tenev has a nemesis, it's Galvin, who emerged as the most outspoken critic of trading apps. He filed suit against Robinhood, accusing it of turning stock trading into a game. A month afterward, Galvin told NPR, "The market should be an honest place. It should be a place where, yes, you're engaging in risk, but it's risk based upon some basis, as opposed to wild gambling."
Leif Abraham <span> Public.com </span>
The meme-stock controversy has kept Abraham busy, not just because the media attention led to a spike in users. He's trying to position his brokerage as the anti-Robinhood. As Abraham described his user base to The Information, "It's not the trader bros." He's also funny on Twitter: When he hired a COO and CFO, he said their jobs were to do the things that he and co-founder Jannick Malling "completely suck at."
Richmond Bassey <span> Bamboo </span>
Investing is increasingly global, and technology is making cross-border trading far easier. For Nigerians, who have seen inflation chip away at their savings in recent years, the U.S. stock market looks like a relatively stable place where they can keep and grow their wealth. Bassey, who recently took his startup through Y Combinator, is hoping to serve first people in that country and then expand across Africa.
Jackie Reses <span> Post House Capital </span>
CEO, Post House Capital
At Square Capital, Reses built the first FDIC-insured bank inside a technology company. She's now investing and advising, working with companies that range from Affirm to Grindr. She was also just appointed chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Economic Advisory Council.
Images by Bloomberg / Getty / Betterment / Alpaca / TechCrunch / Aghaz Investments / Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe / Public / Bamboo / Justin Sullivan.
Benjamin Pimentel (
@benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Signal at (510)731-8429.
Tomio Geron (
@tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.