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thinkorswim Group Inc.
Industry Investor Education and Online Brokerage
Founded Education division (Investools) in 1983 as Telescan, Inc.
Headquarters New York with offices in Chicago, IL, Draper, UT, and Palo Alto, CA
Key people
Lee Barba, CEO
Ida Kane, SVP/CFO
Paul Helbling, SVP/CAO
Tim Knight, SVP Technology
Dale Ainge, SVP Student Acquisition
Scott Sheridan, EVP, thinkorswim Group Inc
Tom Sosnoff, EVP, thinkorswim Group Inc
Peter Santori, SVP and General Counsel
Products Investor education and online brokerage
Revenue Increase $318 million USD (2007)
Parent TD Ameritrade

thinkorswim is an American brokerage offering live and online investor education services.

In addition, through its brokerage subsidiary, Thinkorswim, Inc., Investools provides services to about 100,000 funded trading accounts for self-directed option traders and institutional users who invest in equities, exchange-traded funds, futures, mutual funds and bonds.

Revenue for 2007 was a record $318 million, including the operations of Thinkorswim from February 15, 2007. Client assets were almost $2.6 billion at December 31, 2007. The average client account is $45,000, significantly above industry average.[citation needed] Active subscribers to its education programs were 102,800.

Investools Inc. offers investor education and brokerage and related financial products and services for self-directed investors. Investools Education Group offers a range of investor education products in a variety of interactive delivery formats, including instructor-led synchronous and asynchronous online courses, in-person workshops, one-on-one and one-to-many online coaching programs and telephone, live-chat and email support. Thinkorswim Inc., Investools’ online brokerage firm services self-directed stock, options and futures traders. Thinkorswim offers customers a broad range of products including equity securities, fixed income, index products, options, futures, other derivatives and foreign exchange. Thinkorswim provides front end trading platforms that allow its customers to trade electronically and provides trading tools and analytics. The Thinkorswim software is free through TD Ameritrade and costs $10 per trade.

Subsidiary Thinkorswim, Inc. is a brokerage firm registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulatory body.[1]


Thinkorswim, Inc. was formed through multiple company mergers and acquisitions:

  • In 1982 ([2]), Telescan, a provider of stock charting and screening tools, was founded by Dr. Richard Carlin in Houston, Texas.[citation needed]
  • Also in 1997, Online Investors Advantage, an investor education company, was founded.[3]
  • In 1999, Thinkorswim, Inc. was founded as an online brokerage specializing in options.[4]
  • Also in early 1999, an international investor education company, ZiaSun, acquired Online Investors Advantage (later referred to as "Online Investor Toolbox").[3][5]
  • in 2000, Lee Barba, now the CEO of Thinkorswim, started as CEO with Telescan.[6]
  • On December 6, 2001, ZiaSun merged with Telescan to form Investools.[7][8]
  • In January 2005, Investools purchased Prophet Financial Systems, Inc. and embarked on a re-architecture of the Investor Toolbox. Prophet's founder, Tim Knight, was made the Senior Vice President of Technology. In May, Investools common stock was listed on NASDAQ in May 2006 and added to the Russell 3000, 2000 and Microcap indexes on June 30.
  • In January 2006, Thinkorswim acquired Arrowhead Solutions, a privately held, institutional sell-side trade order management system provider.
  • In September 2006, Investools announced a merger with Thinkorswim. In February 2007, the company completed the merger with Thinkorswim and its ticker symbol was changed to SWIM. In June 2008, the group adopted the name of its brokerage subsidiary, Thinkorswim, for its corporate identity, changing the listed holding company's name from Investools, Inc. to Thinkorswim Group Inc.[9] New York investment banking firm Paragon Capital Partners, led by David Adler and Michael Levy, initiated this transaction, and acted as INVESTools' financial advisor in connection with the proposed merger and with respect to the financing of this transaction. (link to press release) At the time of the transaction, thinkorswim had been a portfolio investment of Technology Crossover Ventures. [link to press release][10]
  • In May 2008, the company announced that it was cooperating with an informal U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into presentations used during sales meetings.[11]
  • In January 2009, TD Ameritrade Holdings Inc. acquired Thinkorswim Group Inc. (including its INVESTools division) in a cash and stock deal valued around $606 million.[12]

S.E.C. investigation & penalties[edit]

On 12/10/2009 the Securities And Exchange commission began an investigation into Investools' (purchased by Think Or Swim) use of misleading sales practices in which 2 named defendants Michael J. Drew ("Drew") and Eben D. Miller ("Miller") were giving trading workshops under the guise of being full-time investors by trade, having made their fortunes in this manner as well as assuring "Students" they would achieve the same results by following the Investools method.[13] Among the allegations by the S.E.C. "Investools Did Not Prevent its Speakers from Misleading Investors about a Survey of its Customers' Trading Success"[13]

Currently the investigation by the S.E.C. is "Continuing".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BrokerCheck THINKORSWIM, INC CRD# 106069 SEC# 8-52991". Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b PRNewswire, April 17, 2001, Solana Beach, California.
  4. ^ "Tom Sosnoff Tom Sosnoff: A Q&A with the $600 million man behind Thinkorswim". Daily Finance. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  5. ^ "Orem-based online trading educator expands, gets new headquarters courtesy parent company". Enterprise/Salt Lake City. 8 August 1999. p. 11. 
  6. ^ Thibualt, John (April 2008). "Lee Barba". Equities 57 (3). pp. 68(6). ISSN 1053-2544. 
  7. ^ "ZiaSun and Telescan to Merge; Combination Unites Leader in Investor Education With Leading Provider of Financial Content and Analytics". Business Wire. 3 May 2001. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  8. ^ "INVESTools Acquires ZiaSun and Telescan". Business Wire. 6 December 2001. Retrieved 17 December 2008. 
  9. ^ "Press release: thinkorswim Group Inc. Name Change Effective Today". thinkorswim. 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-07-27. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Nair, Dinesh; Vinu Pilakkott (2008-05-01). "Investools says SEC conducts informal inquiry". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  12. ^ Ortega, Edgar (200-01-08). " Article: TD Ameritrade Buys Thinkorswim to Expand in Options (Update4)". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2012-09-28.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^

External links[edit]