Stock Stream, an interactive Twitch stream taking place right now, is an experiment in collaboration, business and, naturally, chaos. Developed by a software engineer and inspired by a similar experiment where Twitch users installed Arch Linux onto a computer, Stock Stream allows Twitch users to vote on buy or sell commands. At the end of each round of voting, the stream’s algorithm — created by a software developer named Mike — will tally the votes and place the trade.
“I'd seen the idea posted around on some subreddits, so just decided to build it,” Mike told Polygon over Discord, where Twitch users have gathered to come up with the best plan of action for buying and selling stocks. “I just read peoples buy/sell commands from the chat window, do a simple counting of each vote, take the top vote and place that trade. That part of the system was actually easy to build — the tough part was building the UI and getting the system to a stable point where it was ready [for] long term usage.”
Since Twitch players are used to playing actual games that come with rules, Mike imposed guidelines for players. People type commands into the Twitch chat that correlate to the different stock they want to buy or sell. After five minutes is up, those votes are tallied and the decided action is imposed. All of this is done through an app called Robinhood, which allows Mike and those playing to see the result of their actions occur in real time.
At the core of the experiment is whether thousands of people trying to play the stock market will result in a profitable portfolio for Mike — who says he invested $50,000 out of his own pocket — or if it will all come tumbling down. The stream must stay above $25,000, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Regulations are imposed to try and prevent the high risks of day trading.
When asked if he was worried about losing money, Mike admitted he was skeptical at first, but since the experiment got underway, he’s gained a bit of confidence in those playing.
“Before today, I was a bit skeptical — thought I might lose money quickly, but things seem OK,” Mike said. “Now that a lot of the money is diversified, the swings in value should start getting bigger. I ran some simulations with some made-up data, and calculated that it would last at least a couple months.
“But now that there are so many people using it, I'm getting lots of Robinhood referrals, so the account could start getting bigger and bigger.”
Each day of trading on Stock Stream begins at 9 a.m. ET. Because of how automated it is, Mike said that he doesn’t need to pay close attention to what’s happening; he just lets the algorithm do the work.
“I'm actually pretty optimistic about how hard it will be,” he said. “The entire system I've built is 100 percent automated including the starting and stopping of the stream, so theoretically I could just leave it running and not pay attention.”
More information about what Mike is trying to accomplish can be read on the official Stock Stream website. To join in on the selling and buying frenzy that comes with the stock market world — but safely from your own bedroom — check out Mike’s Twitch stream.