Today marks a major new chapter in ETF.com’s 20-year history.
London-based, globally active ETFS Capital, a strategic investment company led by ETF pioneer Graham Tuckwell, has acquired ETF.com from Cboe Global Markets, a market operator and global trading solutions provider. Terms weren’t disclosed.
The deal doesn’t bring any immediate changes to ETF.com’s staff or to the content, tools and services you’ve come to depend on from us. It does, however, start to raise ETF.com onto the global stage, and expand our reach and our efforts around the world.
I’m really excited to give you a sneak peek at what’s coming.
ETF.com has always had global aspirations, since the early days.
Twenty years ago, Jim Wiandt founded IndexFunds.com and purchased the Journal of Indexes from Dow Jones (for $1!), the Journal of Indexes Europe soon followed. In 2003 Wiandt was brought into a company called IndexUniverse, originally founded by Steve Schoenfeld in 2001, and the online properties of IndexUnvierse.com and IndexUniverse.com/Europe came on to the scene . Graham Tuckwell was an early investor in IndexUniverse, and today, we welcome him back.
Over the years, the startup evolved into a central hub for information and analysis on indexes, index funds and ETFs, a fledging financial product at the time.
For a time, the business model centered on editorial content before expanding into conferences/events and data analytics. The events business would go on to start and grow “Inside ETFs” into the largest ETF industry convention in the world with its annual conference in Florida. The data business would build from the ground up into the first set of public-facing ETF data and tools that would later be sold to FactSet. That data set is what currently powers ETF.com data analytics and fund reports.
Major Turning Points
A major turning point for the company came less than 10 years ago, when Wiandt acquired the ETF.com domain name and rebranded the entire company under that moniker. The move powered up our brand recognition and propelled our business into the mainstream of ETF investors. While ETF.com/Europe and Journal of Indexes Europe eventually ceased, we have never lost sight of the idea that ETF media opportunities in Europe were—and are—growing as the European ETF industry continues to scale.
Another major turning point came between 2015 and 2016 when Bats Global Markets purchased ETF.com. By then, Informa had acquired ETF.com’s event business, and FactSet had taken the data analytics business, so the band was breaking up.
Not long after that, Cboe Global Markets purchased Bats, and ETF.com found itself in a new home, operating as an independent editorial division of Cboe. It’s been an amazing tenure. Under Cboe’s leadership and with its support, ETF.com’s online footprint has more than quadrupled, outpacing the three-fold asset growth of the U.S. ETF industry during the same time.
“We are thrilled to have ETF.com join the ETFS Capital group," said Laura Morrison, senior vice president, global head of listings for Cboe, who also oversaw ETF.com. "Cboe is a passionate champion for the global ETF industry, and we believe the innovative thinking, deep experience and planned investment from ETFS Capital in the business and people of ETF.com will not only grow this journalistic enterprise into a global media brand, but also benefit the ETF industry as a whole."
Here We Are
With ETFS Capital’s purchase of ETF.com, and the return of Tuckwell’s involvement, you could say we’re bringing at least some of the band back together again. The vision is to provide the world with top ETF news coverage, analysis, education, data, marketing services, events and conferences. The goals are ambitious!
Active discussions are now starting regarding the best way to build a truly global ETF-focused platform that delivers the expected news, insights, data and analytics, marketing services and events. While we will move as quickly as we can and with purpose, we know this process will take some time and a lot of hard work. There is a massive opportunity ahead—for us, our customers and partners—so we need to get this right.
I can shed some light on the editorial side and some of our aspiration in other areas.
What ETFS Capital Brings Now
ETFS Capital was formed in 2018 after Tuckwell sold ETF Securities, an ETF issuer operating in the U.S. and Europe, while retaining its ETF issuer in Australia. ETFS Capital’s goal is to focus on growth opportunities across the investment ecosystem and the ETF industry in particular. The firm’s stated purpose is to discover and empower the innovation-led companies driving change—typically technology-enabled—and help them become tomorrow’s leaders.
ETFS Capital has a growing, but specialist, portfolio of investee firms. The portfolio contains ETF Stream, the leading media brand and website for everything ETF-related in Europe, Australia and Asia. The synergies between ETF.com and ETF Stream are obvious, and both audiences will benefit from us collaborating.
The portfolio also contains AltFi.com, offering fintech coverage of lending, banking and investing, striving to make the disruption of finance more transparent and accessible to an increasingly wider audience. Our readers and clients have asked us for more fintech coverage revolving around the ETF and financial advisory industries, so Altfi.com can help us meet that demand.
ETF.com, ETF Stream and AltFi.com expect to start working together immediately, building on synergies that will benefit our readers and business partners.
“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity ahead for ETF.com,” said Graham Tuckwell, chairman, ETFS Capital. “While the global ETF industry hit $8 trillion AUM at the end of 2020, accelerating expansion also means greater complexity, new challenges and more change. Investors, advisors—frankly all participants—need even more informative news and insights to keep making good investment decisions. Richer data, more in-depth analysis, ever-more sophisticated tools, better services, impactful events and how they are accessed—meaning the platform—are only going to become more important. ETF.com can and must be the solution the industry needs and wants.”
Exciting Future Ahead
The history of ETF.com is rich, and the company has been built by some extraordinary people, who have then gone on to become leaders in their own right across the ETF and investment industries. Names like Wiandt, Steven Schoenfeld (Blue Star Indexes), Matt Hougan (Bitwise), Dave Nadig (ETF Trends), Elisabeth Kashner & Paul Britt (FactSet), Dennis Hudachek (Charles Schwab), Paul Baiocchi (ALPS), Ugo Egbunike (Jane Street), Olivier Ludwig (Vanguard) come to mind. Also, let’s not forget that most of the current staff is long-serving. This is my 10th year after Wiandt hired me in our San Francisco office to manage and sharpen the team’s media chops.
It’s been a sometimes-wild ride, but one thing that gives me tremendous pride is that most of our current staff—editorial; IT in Quito, Ecuador; and sales—has been here for at least a decade. While ownership may have changed, the mission and commitment of the people working at ETF.com hasn’t wavered.
Our mission of helping ETF investors make better and more informed investment decisions has never been more firmly grounded or more important.
To have ETFS Capital’s Tuckwell, who was there at the start, come back into ETF.com as owner 20 years into our history, is almost serendipitous, and sets the tone for an exciting future.
For myself, and I believe for everyone at ETF.com, the global stage is an overdue destination and an opportunity to continue to democratize access to investing and make the ETF world a smaller place.
Drew Voros has been the editor-in-chief of ETF.com since 2012. He can be reached at [email protected].