The financial platform Benzinga replaced an existing chat solution they built in-house with Stream’s scalable, reliable chat API. Here’s how Stream helped Benzinga add new features to their subscription product, Benzinga Pro.
•Published: Jun 24, 2021
Problem: As Benzinga acquired more subscribers, it was clear that the financial platform needed to replace their “homegrown” chat feature with a more reliable and feature-rich chat solution.
Result: Benzinga Pro now has reliable chat functionality that helps the platform continue to build a community of more than 5,000+ engaged day traders.
Did you know that nearly all stock price changes over 10% result from a single news headline? Whether it be a new CEO announcement, an exciting product launch, or a merger or acquisition, the news cycle is a powerful force that initiates significant market swings. The financial media company Benzinga, founded in 2010, is built upon the premise that successful trading hinges on real-time access to headlines that matter to investor portfolios.
Based out of Detroit, Benzinga is on a mission to democratize financial information by providing individual investors with sophisticated tools to make informed trades before big price changes. Such tools include in-depth content created by Benzinga’s in-house newsdesk of financial reporters, and Benzinga Pro — a subscription platform with an intuitively designed workspace containing real-time market updates and a newsfeed of curated headlines with positive and negative sentiment indicators (which estimate the potential impact of a story on stock prices). The platform has a chat functionality for users to share trading ideas, discuss breaking news, and even converse with Benzinga’s knowledgeable editorial staff.
When Benzinga needed to replace their “homegrown” chat functionality with a scalable, feature-rich version, they chose to integrate the Stream Chat API.
Migrating to a Scalable, High-Performance Chat Infrastructure
Prior to integrating with Stream, Benzinga used a chat solution their engineers built in-house that enabled several hundred subscribers to connect with one another over trading ideas. While the company’s initial chat feature was a good MVP, it did have some issues. Chat connections were sometimes unreliable, and Benzinga’s Lead Developer Bert David needed a solution that could scale because the company was rapidly attracting more subscribers — many of whom relied on the chat functionality to make more high-earning trades.
David was faced with the choice of either investing more engineering time and resources into improving and maintaining the in-house solution or outsourcing the chat functionality to a third-party chat provider. It was a classic buy versus build decision that many product owners face when their company experiences exponential growth. “Our users are day traders, and they use the chatroom extensively to find trading ideas. This is how our users make their living, and they rely on our tool 24/7 to do their job,” says David. “The stakes for a reliable chat were high.”
Partnering with an API-powered chat provider was clearly the best way to support Benzinga’s rocketing user base: Over the past year and a half, the company’s subscriber community ballooned to well over 5,000 members.
Why Benzinga Choose Stream Chat
Even before he started to evaluate chat vendors, David knew he wanted to migrate Benzinga’s existing chat users, data, and history to a new solution without interrupting the platform’s chat experience. When successful trading is contingent on at-your-fingertips data and quick actions, even a small delay or outage could be a serious headache. Additionally, David sought a chat solution that could be embedded directly into Benzinga Pro’s main platform — rather than a separate section of the application — so traders could simultaneously track the real-time newsfeed and chat with their community about the implications of certain headlines.
David valued a customizable solution, too, because he wanted to add other tools — such as tickerization — into the chat for a seamless customer experience. For example, when using Stream Chat, Benzinga Pro customers can hover over stock tickers mentioned in conversations, and get quick, actionable insights on stocks without having to view this information in a separate window. Benzinga Pro recently launched the ability to search the chat feature by ticker symbol.
“The tooling technology and its ability to integrate directly into our platform was a big advantage of Stream Chat over other providers that we considered,” says David. “We also went with Stream because the flexible pricing model worked well for our business. As a growing company, we are dedicated to keeping costs low for our users.”
Benzinga incorporated Stream using the React Chat Messaging SDK, and launched chat on their platform within two to three months. While Benzinga developers borrowed a few UI components from Stream, they customized most of the chat UI to match their platform.
Building an Engaged Community with Stream Chat
After integrating with the Stream Chat API, Benzinga Pro now has reliable chat functionality that enables the platform to stand out from other financial tools. “Our community is by far the number one thing that differentiates us from our competition,” explains Andrew Weiss, general manager of Benzinga Pro. “Stream helps make Benzinga an actual community. Whether it’s discussing the hot stock of the day, responding to technical questions, or encouraging users to attend our daily virtual happy hours, Stream Chat is an integral way we support our members.” Weiss adds that Stream allows Benzinga’s expanded community to provide instant alerts to moving stocks, clarification on specific news headlines, and even coach newer traders why certain news matters. For example, subscribers who are newer to day trading can participate in a paid mentorship program to receive guidance from experienced traders — a product that is conducted via a special channel within Benzinga’s chatroom.
Going forward, Benzinga will continue to experiment with customizing their chat functionality, especially in ways that help users search for discussions around relevant ticker symbols.
Ultimately, by integrating a third-party chat API into the platform, Benzinga’s developers can maintain technology that is core to the product, explains Bert David. “Stream Chat allows us to focus on building Benzinga Pro and supporting our community, not the chat technology powering it.”