Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.
Auction Rate Preferreds.
8:30 AM EST Wednesday, April 23, 2008: The
good news is that my continuing loves -- First Solar, silver (SLV) and gold
(GLD) are doing well.
good news is that RIMM fell yesterday. But the bad news is that Apple did also.
Of course, no one should figure their (i.e. my) stock brilliance on one day's
movements -- though the drops yesterday were brutal -- nearly 5% for Apple and
4% for RIMM.
this proves that picking stocks in this insane market is a fool's game (unless
you get in on a hot IPO -- like IPI, which I, once again, missed. Thank you,
my "friends' down town).
there's a bright star on the firmament -- as if it wasn't always there. Look
at how well my favorite Vanguard index funds have done since April 1.
Stock Index Fund
Fund Admiral Shares
Index Fund Admiral Shares
Fund Admiral Shares
to sell me on your new start-up? I want to
invest in your start-up. I want your start-up to be the next Google. I like
being pitched. Lately I've seen a lot of start-ups. But there's many of you
out there without a clue. Here are some "Rules."
1. Tell me
how we're going to make money. Internet busineses are cheap to start and
run. I know that. But when we have a million free users, who love us, how are
we going to get them to give a few shekels for our hard work? Don't tell they'll
be "class-act" (i.e. rich) people whom Mercedes and Lexus will be
salivating to advertise to.
2. Tell me
you put some decent money in.. I'm not impressed with someone aged 35 putting
in only $100,000 and telling me he can't afford any more, since the last entrepreneurial
venture was a bust. Not taking a salary for two years is also stupid, unless
you like have kids with bloated bellies. There's nothing wrong with starting
a business with nothing (I did). Just don't ask me to invest mega-bucks into
something you haven't.
3. Don't expect
to sell me on one visit. I'm not a "slam-bang, thank you mam"
kind of guy. I like to actually to get to know you and develop a relationship.
So don't get pissed because I said "Maybe." Maybe I'll say Yes the
second or third time I see you.
I'm know I'm no genius. But if you dismiss everything I say, I'll start to worry.
Heck, I've been around for a lot longer than you. Your competitor was in pitching
me last week.
5. If I don't
understand your product, we got a problem. Actually, I should understand
it and I should get excited by it. Maybe I'll even want one. Think about
that. If cheapskate me is willing to pay you real money, you must have something
6. Send a thank
you. If I spend my ultra-valuable, ultra-precious time meeting with you
and hearing your pitch, at least send me a "Thank you" email. A handwritten
one is even better. Remember, I'd rather be playing tennis than listening to
7. Make sure you pass my sneaky little tests. Maybe I'll ask you to send
me some industry stats? Maybe I'll ask for your competitors? Be wary. I'm always
checking on to see if you do what you promise. If you let me down, you'll let
your poor customers down, too.
8. Don't overvalue
your venture. No startup should have a market cap of $10 million unless
you have the patent to eternal life and then you don't need me, except as a
9. Stop checking
your BlackBerry when we're meeting. Either we're having a conversation,
or, you're checking your email. But you can't do both. It's offensive.
Give this list
to your kid or grandkid who's trying to make the next Google. Tell him he can.
I know he or she can. But it ain't easy. Most startups fail.
Test. Test. I have three new rules.
Check. Check. Check that my bank is still solvent. The Journal talks about
Sovereign Bancorp's stupid adventures out west. Damn. And I have money with
Test. Test. Test that my email is still working. One of my accounts wasn't
this morning because my email provider had "upgraded" my account,
changed my settings and forgotten to tell me. I don't make this stuff up. I
had 96 stuck emails!
Backup. Backup. My friend Ed forgot recently to back up his recent Outlook
emails and contacts. Sadly, his only back up is old.
GPS Snitch lets you track cars and people: I
haven't personally tested this thing and I don't quite know it works. But NetworkWorld
magazine swears by it and I'm intrigued. The GPS Snitch is a little (four inch)
tracking device you put in a ritzy car, a memory-lagging grandfather, and in
the box you're shipping the Mona Lisa. It has GPS, a cellphone and a motion
It will send you alerts when it detects movements. And you can ping it and ask
it "Where are you?" Or you can have it report regularly -- as often
as every few seconds. You track it over the Internet via Google Maps on your
PC or laptop. The gadget costs $400 and you pay every time you ping it. NetworkWorld's
reporter tested it on his wife when she went shopping. His wife (who
knew) was still amazed to have her husband tell her precisely where she'd just
been. You can learn more at GPS-Snitch
and at BlackLine GPS
which has some other neat GPS products.
I love English. More than any other language, we keep making up wonderful
new words. In the past year. In early April, the New Yorker magazine
wrote "In the past year, though, economists have reported an increase in
the number of people who are just walking away from their homes, because its
now often easier to abandon a mortgage than a credit-card bill. (The practice
has even been given a name jingle mail, because people
simply send their keys back in an envelope.)
Which brings me
to an unabashed plug for the latest edition of my dictionary,
If you're in any way involved with telecom, networking, the Internet or computers,
you need this book on your desk. If you're running one of these companies and
need your new people to get educated on the industry's buzzwords, you need this
book. All the industry's trade press (including PC Magazine and the New York
Times) has raved about my dictionary. Heck, I've been at it for more than 20
years. It'll be one of my legacies. Buy it from eLearnAid.
He's cheaper than Amazon.
and cheese. This is long, but more than wonderful.
male dogs are walking down the street when they see a ?beautiful, enticing,
The three male dogs fall all over themselves in an effort to be the one to reach
her first, but end up arriving in front of her at the same time.
The males are speechless before her beauty, slobbering on themselves and hoping
for just a glance from her in return.
Aware of her charms and her obvious effect on the three suitors, she decides
to be kind and tells them, "The first one who can use the words 'liver'
and 'cheese' together in an imaginative, intelligent sentence can go out with
The sturdy, muscular black Lab speaks up quickly and says, "I love liver
"Oh, how childish," said the Poodle. "That shows no imagination
or intelligence whatsoever."
She turns to the tall, shiny Golden Retriever and says "How well can you
"Um. I HATE liver and cheese," blurts the Golden Retriever.
"My, my," said the Poodle. "I guess it's hopeless. That's just
as dumb as the Lab's sentence."
She then turns to the last of the three dogs and says, "How about you,
The last of the three, tiny in stature but big in fame and finesse, is the Taco
He gives her a smile, a sly wink, turns to the Golden Retriever and the Lab
Three women friends,
one engaged, one married, and one a mistress, are chatting about their relationships
and decide to give their men a treat, then later compare notes.
They agree that
that night all three will wear a leather bodice S&M style, stilettos and
a mask over their eyes...
After a few days
they meet again...
The engaged girlfriend
said: "When my boyfriend came back home, he found me with the leather bodice,
6-inch stiletto heels and mask. He couldn't take his eyes off me and he said:
'You are the woman
of my life, I love you.'
Then we made love
all night long."
The mistress said:
"Ah! Me too! I met my lover in the office and I was wearing the leather
bodice, mega stilettos, mask over my eyes and a raincoat.
"When I opened
the raincoat he couldn't speak, but his actions spoke louder than words. We
had wild sex all night."
The married friend
sighed: "I sent the kids to stay at my mothers for the night, I got myself
ready: leather bodice, super stilettos and mask over my eyes.
comes back from work, opens the door and says: "Alright Batman, what's
(In case you missed it.)
Turn up the volume. Try the Manic Mode and the Fresh Sheet. Click
This column is about my personal search for the perfect
investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered
with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor.
I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three
reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column
is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect
Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas,
concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address
is . You can't
click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software
scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing
the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting.
If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting
you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school
tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click
here and here.