by Michael Shapiro | October 24, 2014

Harvest Private launched this week, providing an invitation-only social-network platform for the investor community. What's unique about this is that it's based on the  social-network Harvest, where financial firms and investors openly share investment ideas. Harvest was founded in September 2012, with the goal of making the finance industry a more open place. In the site's first 10 months after launch, more than 2,000 firms — hedge funds, mutual funds, research analysts, financial advisers, etc. — contributed more than 40,000 informational posts. The platform is compliant with both Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority regulations, meaning it's an acceptable way for firms to communicate investor relations news, marketing materials, earnings and the like.

In spinning off an invitation-only version, Harvest Private, the company aims to provide a private-network solution for more sensitive or timely information, appropriate for conferences, webcasts and idea meetings. Harvest Private networks can be branded, and are secure and SEC- and FINRA-compliant. The new platform can connect attendees with each other as well as provide a secure home for event-related research, video, presentations and the like. Relevant public information from the Harvest site can also be accessed via the Harvest Private network.

While other event-specific social network platforms can offer secure solutions, one wonders whether Harvest Private is a sign of more such technology to come, aimed at a very specific niche. I suspect that some firms already are using proprietary solutions, but perhaps we will see more publicly available, customizable platforms for the investor, pharmaceutical and government meetings sectors, to name just a few. If you're already using a similar tool for a regulated industry, let me know or feel free to post below.