AUSTRALIA’S MOST POPULAR BUSINESS PODCAST

Fear & Greed, Fear and Greed

Market Index is a website that serves as a portal to the Australian stock market. But it’s also an example of a fantastic Australian success story – a company built from the ground up, identifying a need, meeting that need, and then being acquired.

Matthew Gabriele, founder of Market Index, and now Executive Director at Livewire Markets, talks to Jennifer Duke about his start-up story – and what it’s like to go from founder to employee.

Find out more: https://fearandgreed.com.au

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Jennifer Duke: Welcome to the Fear and Greed Business Interview. I’m Jennifer

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Jennifer Duke: Duke. Today’s interview is of particular interest to me as

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Jennifer Duke: an economics journalist because I’ve used the product that we’re

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Jennifer Duke: speaking about, but it’s also an example of a fantastic

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Jennifer Duke: Australian success story, a story of a company being built

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Jennifer Duke: from the ground up, identifying a need, meeting that need,

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Jennifer Duke: and then being acquired. So Market Index is a website

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Jennifer Duke: that serves as a portal to the Australian stock market.

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Jennifer Duke: It provides share prices, research tools, ASX news and more.

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Jennifer Duke: It was launched in 2014 and less than a decade

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Jennifer Duke: later has grown to almost 700, 000 monthly users. Late last

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Jennifer Duke: year the platform was acquired by market analysis and news

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Jennifer Duke: site, Livewire Markets, and we love remarkable stories at Fear

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Jennifer Duke: and Greed and this is definitely one of them. Matthew

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Jennifer Duke: Gabriele is the founder of Market Index and now executive

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Jennifer Duke: director at Livewire Markets. Matthew, welcome to Fear and Greed.

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Matthew Gabriele: Thank you for having me.

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Jennifer Duke: So let’s start right back at the beginning. Where did

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Jennifer Duke: the idea for Market Index come from?

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Matthew Gabriele: It came from someone in about 2007 when I started

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Matthew Gabriele: working as a stockbroker. He told me how huge the

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Matthew Gabriele: internet is going to be and he said, ” Matt, you’ve

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Matthew Gabriele: got to go for a land grab, try and grab

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Matthew Gabriele: every bit of real estate online related to the stock

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Matthew Gabriele: market that you can, because you’re going to regret it

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Matthew Gabriele: in 10 or 20 years time.” And so in 2007 I started

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Matthew Gabriele: accumulating all these domains. In 2010, I really got into

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Matthew Gabriele: search engine optimization, really obsessively, and I started building a

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Matthew Gabriele: whole bunch of websites in the stock market niche. And

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Matthew Gabriele: over the years, more and more traffic started coming and

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Matthew Gabriele: by 2014, I think I was having about 100, 000 users

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Matthew Gabriele: a month on various websites and I thought, geez, I’ve

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Matthew Gabriele: got to do something about this or I’m going to

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Matthew Gabriele: regret it. And late 2014, that’s when I merged all

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Matthew Gabriele: of them into one and launched Market Index.

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Jennifer Duke: So what were you able to provide that investors couldn’t

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Jennifer Duke: get elsewhere? What was the need here that you were filling?

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Matthew Gabriele: All my websites fulfilled one specific need. So if they wanted

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Matthew Gabriele: to know one specific piece of data or one specific

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Matthew Gabriele: area of analysis, I dedicated an entire mini site or

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Matthew Gabriele: website to that one thing. Most of it is people

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Matthew Gabriele: just want an easy way to consume large amounts of

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Matthew Gabriele: dry financial information, and enjoy doing it. That’s it in a nutshell, just

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Matthew Gabriele: make life easier for ASX investors

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Jennifer Duke: As simple and complex as that task must be to

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Jennifer Duke: fulfill. So what were some of those challenges that you

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Jennifer Duke: encountered along the way in trying to do that and

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Jennifer Duke: are there some specific challenges around using the ASX as the

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Jennifer Duke: source of data?

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Matthew Gabriele: I wouldn’t say the ASX specifically. I’d say the data

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Matthew Gabriele: industry as a whole. A lot of people don’t realize

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Matthew Gabriele: that a lot of financial information is still manually taken

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Matthew Gabriele: out of announcements. So the company pushes the announcement to the ASX,

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Matthew Gabriele: the ASX, distribute the announcement, and then we’ve got all

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Matthew Gabriele: these other data collation companies who manually go through it,

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Matthew Gabriele: manually plug in all the financials, manually type in all

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Matthew Gabriele: the dividends and things like that. And whenever you get

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Matthew Gabriele: large amounts of information that are copy and paste, there’s

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Matthew Gabriele: going to be manual errors along the way. And one

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Matthew Gabriele: small error, let’s say in a dividend, can have a

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Matthew Gabriele: huge impact on a number of other calculations down the

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Matthew Gabriele: track. And until the data industry is entirely automated, I

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Matthew Gabriele: don’t see it changing very much and people really should

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Matthew Gabriele: be aware of data integrity and we try our butts

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Matthew Gabriele: off to try and keep everything as accurate as possible.

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Jennifer Duke: And as you’re saying, it is an incredibly precise field and

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Jennifer Duke: any mistake that you make affects the data that investors

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Jennifer Duke: are really using to make their decisions. Does that keep

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Jennifer Duke: you up at night at all?

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Matthew Gabriele: Not so much now. We’ve got a lot of automated

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Matthew Gabriele: ways to flag things, but yeah, certainly learning it and

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Matthew Gabriele: understanding it initially, it was a huge thing to do

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Matthew Gabriele: because there isn’t online help documentation. It’s you just have

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Matthew Gabriele: to grab the data feed, go through it one company

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Matthew Gabriele: after another and make your decision that way, whether you’re

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Matthew Gabriele: going to use that feed or not.

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Jennifer Duke: Stay with me, Matthew, we’ll be back in a minute.

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Jennifer Duke: I’m speaking to Matthew Gabriele, the founder of Market Index

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Jennifer Duke: and executive director at Livewire Markets.
Obviously the COVID period

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Jennifer Duke: was massive for investing. Loads of new investors coming into

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Jennifer Duke: the market. All of them had to get data and

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Jennifer Duke: insight from somewhere. What did this mean for Market Index?

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Matthew Gabriele: Yeah, so March 2020 during the crash, that was the

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Matthew Gabriele: best month in history for Market Index. August just been

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Matthew Gabriele: was the second. But whenever there’s a crash, more people

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Matthew Gabriele: search for things on the stock market than they do when

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Matthew Gabriele: it’s actually hitting new highs. Because that panic and that

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Matthew Gabriele: fear comes into it and people are just checking it

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Matthew Gabriele: all day every day. In that March 2020, I was

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Matthew Gabriele: struggling to keep the website up and I actually had

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Matthew Gabriele: to drop a few minor data feeds just to keep

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Matthew Gabriele: the server running so the website would stay up for

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Matthew Gabriele: people to watch it. That was the biggest thing.
And

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Matthew Gabriele: I think with COVID, working from home, you don’t have

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Matthew Gabriele: a boss looking over your shoulder the whole time. So

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Matthew Gabriele: people were checking the stock market a lot more. A

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Matthew Gabriele: lot more traders were coming into the market. I had

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Matthew Gabriele: never had so many people reaching out saying, ” How do

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Matthew Gabriele: I set up a broking account? Where do I do

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Matthew Gabriele: that?” It blew my mind. And COVID actually was a

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Matthew Gabriele: fantastic thing for the website because once people visit it

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Matthew Gabriele: once, they tend to come back. And if you look

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Matthew Gabriele: at our long- term traffic, that was a huge blip and I think it was the huge blip

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Matthew Gabriele: for pretty much every website in the finance industry.

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Jennifer Duke: I think we’ll take that as a nice silver lining

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Jennifer Duke: from COVID, that people became much more engaged with investing.

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Matthew Gabriele: Absolutely.

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Jennifer Duke: Now, I did mention in the introduction that in August

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Jennifer Duke: this year you reached about 690,000 monthly users, which is

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Jennifer Duke: massive. And you’ve done all of that without spending on

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Jennifer Duke: advertising I’m hearing. How? How would you do something like that?

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Matthew Gabriele: I think what it comes down to is that I’m

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Matthew Gabriele: driven by fun and passion, not money. So particularly in

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Matthew Gabriele: the initial years, I cared more about the website being

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Matthew Gabriele: loved and being used and getting all those emails than

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Matthew Gabriele: I did about making money. And apart from a few

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Matthew Gabriele: ads at most, two ads on a page, little banner

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Matthew Gabriele: ads, I didn’t monetize the website until a few years

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Matthew Gabriele: ago. All I wanted was to build this big website

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Matthew Gabriele: that everyone loved. Because the more ads you put on,

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Matthew Gabriele: the more sponsored stuff, the lower the user experience and

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Matthew Gabriele: it can harm you in the longterm. So I did

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Matthew Gabriele: it by first off, looking at the data, what are

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Matthew Gabriele: people searching for? Build something that is insanely useful around

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Matthew Gabriele: that specific problem they’re trying to solve and make the

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Matthew Gabriele: user experience really awesome. So they want to come back

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Matthew Gabriele: and it’s a pleasure.

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Jennifer Duke: So do most people find you through search and then

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Jennifer Duke: they become loyal users? Is that the path?

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Matthew Gabriele: That is the path. Yes. So as I said, no

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Matthew Gabriele: advertising. People find us once online and because of that year- on-

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Matthew Gabriele: year we’ve grown. We haven’t had a down year yet

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Matthew Gabriele: in traffic and that’s it. They search for their favorite

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Matthew Gabriele: search term, quite often we’re number one or number two

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Matthew Gabriele: in the search. And then we’ve got a new loyal

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Matthew Gabriele: visitor, which is great.

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Jennifer Duke: So when did Livewire markets enter the picture?

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Matthew Gabriele: Well, of all the finance websites, we all kind of

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Matthew Gabriele: know each other anyway. You bump into each other or

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Matthew Gabriele: you have to talk to each other at various times.

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Matthew Gabriele: So I chatted with them about 18 months ago, and

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Matthew Gabriele: when I outlined what our vision is, what our mission

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Matthew Gabriele: is, I think Tom, the MD of Livewire was blown

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Matthew Gabriele: away at how perfectly aligned our missions were. Then about

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Matthew Gabriele: a year ago, he just called me up and said, ”

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Matthew Gabriele: Matt, I want to do something big. I’m going to

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Matthew Gabriele: fly over to Perth and I want to have a

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Matthew Gabriele: chat with you.” And as soon as someone, the amount

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Matthew Gabriele: of people you get wanting to buy the website and

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Matthew Gabriele: most of them are just wasting your time, when someone

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Matthew Gabriele: says they’re going to fly from Sydney to Perth to

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Matthew Gabriele: have a meeting because he wants to have a chat

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Matthew Gabriele: with you, you know someone’s serious. And from that day on, I

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Matthew Gabriele: took everything he said, seriously.

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Jennifer Duke: So you said before that you’re not particularly driven by

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Jennifer Duke: money, so I’m assuming you weren’t always building towards an

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Jennifer Duke: acquisition or were you? Maybe that’s an open question for

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Jennifer Duke: you, but even so, how did you know it was

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Jennifer Duke: the right time?

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Matthew Gabriele: I knew it was the right time because I wasn’t

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Matthew Gabriele: having fun anymore. So when you’re the only person in

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Matthew Gabriele: the business, you do whatever you want, whenever you want,

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Matthew Gabriele: it’s fantastic. As you’re scaling the company, you get more

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Matthew Gabriele: and more staff. I hate being a MD. Absolutely hate

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Matthew Gabriele: it. I don’t know why anyone would like doing it.

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Matthew Gabriele: You’ve become the lightning rod for everything. You can’t actually

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Matthew Gabriele: do any work. You spend your whole day just putting

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Matthew Gabriele: out fires and looking after other people. I like having

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Matthew Gabriele: a specific thing to do. Let me put my headphones

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Matthew Gabriele: on. I don’t want to talk to you. That’s my

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Matthew Gabriele: role, and I just wasn’t enjoying the day- to- day

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Matthew Gabriele: anymore. And that’s something Tom loves. Livewire’s a very tight

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Matthew Gabriele: ship, awesome company. And I was like, yep, cool. I

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Matthew Gabriele: want to build stuff from the inside and you can

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Matthew Gabriele: do all the MD stuff and that’s it. I’ll just

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Matthew Gabriele: stay in the background.

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Jennifer Duke: That sounds like a match made in heaven. Where to

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Jennifer Duke: from here for you? Is there more growth available in

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Jennifer Duke: the market?

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Matthew Gabriele: Yes. There’s always more growth whether we go global or

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Matthew Gabriele: there are a lot of strategies that we’ve been investigating.

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Matthew Gabriele: At the core of it, both of us want to be the

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Matthew Gabriele: place or the most loved source of financial information and

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Matthew Gabriele: analysis. We want everyone to start their day with our

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Matthew Gabriele: websites and we’re just going to be doubling down on

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Matthew Gabriele: that, with the firm belief that if you look after

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Matthew Gabriele: the user and genuinely care about every single user and

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Matthew Gabriele: what they want, that you are going to get rewarded in the

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Matthew Gabriele: longterm. I’ve been following that since day one and they’re

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Matthew Gabriele: of the same belief and we’re going to be doing

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Matthew Gabriele: that going forward.

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Jennifer Duke: Definitely. Matthew, thank you very much for talking to Fear

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Jennifer Duke: and Greed.

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Matthew Gabriele: No problems. Thanks for having me.

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Jennifer Duke: And that was Matthew Gabriele, the founder of Market Index

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Jennifer Duke: and executive Director at Livewire Markets. This is the Fear

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Jennifer Duke: and Greed business interview. Join us every morning for the

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Jennifer Duke: full episode of Fear and Greed, Australia’s best business podcast.

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Jennifer Duke: I’m Jennifer Duke, economics correspondent at Capital Brief and filling

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Jennifer Duke: in for Sean Aylmer. Have a great day.