Attn buyside guys, looking at sumzero & value investors club - is it worth it to join?

thebrofessor's picture
thebrofessor - Certified Professional
Rank: The Pro | banana points 22,966

hey guys, thinking of joining sumzero & value investors club, and am open to other ideas. For those of you who use these, are they worth it? I guess my concern is that for VIC I don't get a lot of benefit yet I share all of my ideas and sumzero I'm just not sure. I can try to get into sumzero buyside if I submit an idea, or I can just go for regular sumzero, but no idea if there's a lot of benefit.

just hoping some buyside guys can shed some light on the value of these things or if the time you spend posting/developing ideas isn't worth the benefit.

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Comments (59)

Sep 12, 2014

just be prepared for whitney to troll all your posts

Sep 12, 2014

Whitney may be an awful investor, but the guy sure does know how to market himself.

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Sep 12, 2014

I use the guest access for VIC, which is about a 45 day lag. The truth is most ideas are long term ideas so a 45 day lag really doesn't mean much. If you are worried about putting in a lot of time and effort (and giving up your best ideas...) just use the guest log in.

Another point - if you do sign up you only need to do 2 write-ups a year. Not the end of the world.

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Best Response
Sep 12, 2014

I don't have any experience on VIC. I have been on SZ since it launched.

I guess I don't understand what your concern is here... that you are wasting time by posting ideas?

I have TONS of ideas (from high to low conviction) which is my job. So writing it up takes hardly any time. Do I get a lot of value out of reading others' SZ ideas? Not really - I find them to be focused on small mkt cap and/or foreign names that I don't traffic in. But if I ever do get a lead from SZ, it has more than paid for the minimal effort I put into it.

You are asking buyside guys, so sounds like you aren't buyside yet but want to be. Then yes, I'd find it to be very valuable. The write-ups are in-depth and significantly better thought out than what you'll find on SeekingAlpha (most of the time). You can learn a lot from reading and thinking about how other people look at stocks. You receive feedback and questions on your ideas... this is perfect practice ahead of any interview on the buyside where someone will question the points of your thesis and whether you've fully developed the idea.

I don't see any downside to being active on those sites.

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Sep 12, 2014

thanks man, hadn't thought about the benefits I'd get through people questioning my thesis, that would definitely help my thinking.

as to your comments about interviews, wanting to be buyside, neither of those are concerns. I'm in PWM and in addition to doing the normal broker duties of marketing & managing relationships, I also run a us biased LCV portfolio for our group so I'm constantly trying to source ideas. candidly I don't do as detailed analysis as if I were at a hedge fund because the strategy is not absolute return, it's more like an endowment style of management, where your benchmark is a spending policy + inflation. I have no intentions of ever leaving PWM but I could see the benefit of other professionals questioning my thesis.

perhaps I'll give SZ a shot

Sep 13, 2014

I think most would agree that the pitches and discussion on VIC are at a much higher level than SZ. Barriers to entry are definitely higher on VIC.

Sep 13, 2014

If you're in IBD looking to go to a HF, what kind of account should you get on SumZero (basic, elite, allocator, buyside)? Site says that you must work on the buyside, though non-buyside will be considered if a write-up is submitted.

Also, was wondering what your thoughts were on which ideas to talk about (should they be outside the coverage area you work in?). Obviously won't be disclosing MNP info, but even though I know the most about the companies we work with, not sure about expressing opinions about our group's clients.Might be better to tackle regions / industries I don't directly work with?

Sep 13, 2014

I was considering posting ideas as we're considering adding them to the portfolio, that way my co PM and the forum can question my thesis, and I can get different viewpoints.

As to the what, I will not venture outside of my niche, aren't enough hours in the day.

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Sep 13, 2014

@"thebrofessor" let us know what you think. I would be interested to know whether there is any value in their analysis.

Sep 16, 2014

VIC was pretty hard to get into last time I checked. The founder of SZ was a bit of a douchebag when he founded the site but he's now realized you need to target as wide an audience as possible if you want to make money.

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Sep 16, 2014

Both are pretty good.

Random anecdote - We were looking at doing a take-private a few years ago (would rather not say the name), ultimately another group bought the company but VIC had that "prediction" a month before the deal even closed....

Sep 16, 2014

I am on SumZero. I think its a good platform. Some people write really in depth pieces, obviously others don't. I think its also helpful for younger guys because people also submit attachments, again some of which are really good. So for me its a way to try an source different ways people look at things. Another plus is that if you are on the buyside there is a career section that has jobs and you submit your ideas on SumZero as part of the application. From what I gather, its a lot of people in between jobs that still do good write ups to stay in the game and have something to point to for interviews (though this is just speculation).

Sep 16, 2014

I'm on both platforms and would agree with most of the comments above. In my opinion, I've highlighted some of the pros and cons of each just based on my experience:

VIC: I've actually been on VIC for a good portion of the last couple years and enjoy reading the theses there. They're high quality, actionable enough (even though I've got a 45 day lag) and generally well written. I have two issues in particular though - VIC allows you to be anonymous which is great for users not wanting to disclose their identities, but it definitely makes the whole experience a little less credible compared to SZ. The other thing that sucks is its absolutely horrible interface which just leaves a lot to be desired. I get that the focus is purely to be an idea generation engine, but it doesn't have to look like it was designed in the 80s.

SZ: Recently joined this, maybe about a few months ago. As I work in PE, I'm allowed access to the "buyside" version. I have to say, its excellent. A lot of the ideas are quite high quality, and it really helps credibility wise to see whose posting these ideas. Maybe its just hard for me sometimes to divorce the quality of the theses from the people posting it, but its a big plus. Knowing the identity also helps because say for example an idea in enterprise software is posted by someone at an HF which is known to exclusively invest in tech, that gets a lot more points from me than someone arbitrarily posting their thoughts on it. I can't speak to the difference in quality of the theses between VIC and SZ (a couple of the readers above have mentioned VIC as having better ideas but frankly I can't see the distinction). Also being able to attach additional resources like models/pdfs etc just makes the whole user experience a lot higher quality. I haven't used the careers section just yet, but its an amazing platform for hf/mf/fund jobs in general that you wouldn't be able to source through a heahunter or platform like GoBuyside.

Overall, they're both excellent platforms and I'm fortunate to be on them. Just my 2c - hope this helps.

Sep 16, 2014

VIC is so above and beyond SZ it's almost laughable. FWIW, I belong to both.

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Sep 16, 2014

Does VIC have different asset classes like SumZero? Or is it purely equity? I like how SumZero also had credit write ups but don't know if VIC has them as well.

Sep 17, 2014

interesting. care to comment on why? I'm pleading ignorance here, I haven't lurked either of the forums

Sep 17, 2014

@"Simple As..." care to elaborate on why VIC's so much better? I don't have an appreciation for it quite yet

Mar 13, 2015

The quality on SumZero is quite varied. There are some massive winners along with many many losers. What's most common is a short pump right after the research is out then dump and mediocre performance simulating market returns.

VIC is quite different. There's less pumping and dumping and the research is just of a higher quality in general due to the exclusivity. SumZero lets in everyone who works on the buyside. Most managers underperform the market, so just because they're in the buyside doesn't mean they're making good picks.

I also don't believe in the "expertise" argument. Just because a firm/fund is tech or energy heavy does not mean they're good at tech/energy investing. Good research is good research. It's why most of the top hedge funds and more nimber AM firms invest in anything anywhere as long as there is alpha.

You're in PE so it's different. Sector knowledge would probably be a lot more important.

Sep 18, 2014

Great question and great thread. Thanks for sharing your thoughts guys -- very helpful to young investors tired of lurking on Seeking Alpha.

Mar 13, 2015

If you are still in school, you can work something out with them. Send an email and explain your situation.

Mar 13, 2015

pm your email ill invite you

Mar 13, 2015

Never heard of this site before but just checked it out and it seems pretty interesting. I don't feel like drafting an investment thesis for the sole purpose of submitting it to these people considering the very few investment ideas I do personally come up with are very proprietary. Also, is the sumzero forum open to non-investor professionals, like bankers rather than active investors?

Mar 13, 2015

Fun fact - started by the guy who got fucked by Zuckerburg for Facebook at Harvard (according to his version).

It's ok... a colleague had an account and I poked around on the site; most of the ideas are either re-heated or they are nowhere close to being a fully fleshed out thesis. Thankfully it doesn't look like many talk their book (which saves a lot of aggravation) but still is interesting, especially if you want to get a sense for how to present an idea.

Re: getting access. I don't know how hard it is now but a year ago or so it was pretty tough... sell-side guys is a no go, and students is a definite no go.

Mar 13, 2015
ideating:

Re: getting access. I don't know how hard it is now but a year ago or so it was pretty tough... sell-side guys is a no go, and students is a definite no go.

I'll have to stick to the usual entry method... inadvertently slipping in in the heat of the moment.

Mar 13, 2015

Not sure if you can dude. When I was at an HF, one of my colleagues wanted to join when it first started...after trying to sign up, he got a CALL from the founder. The founder was pretty "aggresive" until he found out he was at a multi $b fund -- mood of the call totally changed after that. From that experience alone, I'd say membership is tightly regulated.

There are a couple of other similar sites that you might like (both of which offer guest memberships if Im not mistaken):
http://www.valueinvestorsclub.com/value2/http://di...

Mar 13, 2015

Thanks Mezz, that story is a little intense.

Mar 13, 2015

.

Mar 13, 2015

i got that same email. and if divya's point is that they'll deny admission to non-buysiders, then what is the point of making more ideas available to the general public? if you're at a fund, all you need to see is the sample write ups to know what to expect and what is expected of you. this move will not generate more quality writeups from those on the buy side.

even more of a detraction is the fact that the ideas are released the same week they're written with no seasoning period. for instance, guest access at valueinvestorclub only gives you ideas 45 days after they're first posted if you'r not a contributing member. that makes a ton more sense to me.

then again, if you check the site on the non-professional sign up page it says:

"Every week SumZero will choose one investment write-up from its database which will be emailed to you. For select members, there may be an opportunity to gain access to the entire database"

i find that to be total garbage. as a contributing member, i do not want non-contributing members having access and sullying up the community.

Sep 19, 2014

Definitely recommend these platforms for sourcing. Have made money from both. You should qualify for SZ buyside as a PM, even part-time.

VIC: more established, more selective, has a few high profile HF managers and great investors among membership, but quality has declined as it has expanded.

SZ: newer, larger, higher variance in post quality (both extremes), better community. You'll make useful IRL connections if you're active on the site. Lots of new initiatives like cap intro and contests that show some promise but are still early days.

Take a look at Corner of Berkshire and Fairfax forums and Microcap Club for more in this vein.

Mar 13, 2015

What do you desperately need that you can't access via a guest account? The guest account is 45 day delay and you can also see the message boards and even what ideas have been recently posted. For learning purposes, that should be enough. The only benefit of a real account is being able to view the newest ideas and to post yourself. I highly doubt anybody is going to hand over their account info to you.

Mar 13, 2015

Cheater.

Mar 13, 2015

I just watched their video, and I'm pretty sure they admitted to being a pump n' dump.

Mar 13, 2015

"Look, you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way. In twenty years, if you're still livin' here, comin' over to my house to watch the Patriots games, still workin' construction, I'll fuckin' kill you. That's not a threat, that's a fact.

Mar 13, 2015

buyside only

Mar 13, 2015

Interested in this as well

Mar 13, 2015

If someone tells you it's super duper mega hard are you guys going to not try? If you're confident in your abilities and can extract some criticism from your submission I can't imagine a better opportunity if you aren't in the industry already.

Mar 13, 2015

.

Mar 13, 2015

Just out of curiosity, isn't the whole concept with the non-member, delayed access that it's useless because the "ideas" should already be priced in by the time you see them? Wouldn't that make it a relatively useless way to source investment ideas? I mean as a non-member of course

GBS

Mar 13, 2015

.

Mar 13, 2015

So you know Divya Nirendra? Are you Mark Zuckerberg?

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Mar 13, 2015
Revolution:

So you know Divya Nirendra? Are you Mark Zuckerberg?

Mark Zuckerberg and Divya aren't exactly buddies, so why would he promote a rival's website?

Mar 13, 2015

i think sumzero has been around for several years, no?

Mar 13, 2015

Is he still jelly about Facebook?

Mar 13, 2015
GoodBread:

Is he still jelly about Facebook?

I'm sure he is a little bit (who wouldnt be) but he didnt seem to be too jealous when I spoke to him. I met him last year before the movie came out and he briefly mentioned the story. Like two months later I saw a trailer for Social Network and realized that was the story he told us ha. He does have a facebook, but said he only got it after they settled. Really smart guy

Mar 13, 2015

how is this different from VIC
also, why not pump your portfolio

I guess its purpose is more idea generation, but that only leads to more groupthink

Mar 13, 2015

I've got a VIC membership from Harris Teeter -- a chain grocery store in the Southeast. Stands for "Very Important Customer".

Mar 13, 2015

f*** yeah harris teeter

Mar 13, 2015

I applied in mid 2012. They liked my analysis but didn't think it was cheap enough. I'm gonna try again in the next 1-2 months, especially if the market sells off a bit.

Mar 13, 2015

If you are looking for an idea do guess access, it takes zero effort and you are only a 45 day lag.

Mar 13, 2015

GF, thanks for that but I am actually curious about a current idea posted there that would be helpful to see sooner than the 45 day window.

"...all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

  • Schopenhauer
Mar 13, 2015
Mar 13, 2015
Mar 13, 2015