Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM Tuesday, September 27, 2005: I
had the privilege yesterday to talk to a class of budding entrepreneurs at MIT.
They're all conceiving companies, writing business plans and planning to be
rich beyond their wildest expectations. I talked about the mistakes I made starting
and closing Technology Investor Magazine. (Disasters always play better
than successes.) In a nutshell:
+ I aimed at the magazine at high net worth individuals, figuring they'd
appeal to potential advertisers, such as mutual funds. In fact, mutual funds
target their ads at less rich investors. Turns out rich clients are self-directed,
know about investing, often have their own managers and are far more quizzical
about the dubious, overpriced benefits of mutual funds. Mutual funds look for
dummies, who'll leave their money forever, won't make trouble and won't question
+ Our timing was awful. I launched at close to the the peak of the tech boom
in end-1999 and tried to sell ads into a market that, three months later, was
in free fall.
The big plus was, on seeing our disaster, I closed the magazine quickly -- after
only 11 issues. Our competitors -- Red Herring and Upside -- hung
around for another two years, wasting millions. Figuring when to fold your
tent is critical in any new venture. That thinking should be done up front.
We did it by agreeing that when losses hit $8 million, we'd close it down. And
we did, on the nose. Our competitors bled another $20 million to $30 million
before they finally got the message.
The most popular part of my talk was the bit I called "Newton's 6 Keys
to Incredible Wealth and Great Personal Success":
1. Figure what makes us happy. What turns us on. What we love is what
we'll do best at. The flip side to that -- don't get involved with ventures
you don't love.
You need a crystal-clear Vision, and the ability to state it in two sentences.
Every venture needs venturers -- like employees, shareholders, bankers, customers.
To succeed, they all need to be on the same page.
3. An unshakable belief in ourselves and our ability to achieve that
Vision. That typically means enthusiasm. I'm a huge believer in enthusiasm.
Genuine enthusiasm is contagious and will take a venture far further than a
4. The practical skills necessary to achieve that vision. No one ever
went broke by knowing too much. Learn more than enough to question the experts
-- especially the lawyers and the accountants, who have been found in recent
years to be severely limited in their skills and knowledge. My line remains:
You can rarely be too "hands-on." Critical skills which most
businesspeople lack are negotiation, marketing and selling.
5. A concrete well thought-out plan for fluffing our Vision. Putting
a plan on paper and passing it by others will clear your thinking, get you feedback
and attract other people and their money.
6. A major sense of urgency. The ability to move fast is the entrepreneur's
greatest advantage. It's probably his only one when competing with large corporations.
That's all for today. I got hit by a big rainstorm coming back and decided to
stop halfway. Teaching is exhausting, but enormous fun.
The Jewish Couple
modern Orthodox Jewish couple, preparing for a religious wedding meets with
their rabbi for counseling. The rabbi asks if they have any last questions before
The man asks,
"Rabbi, we realize it's tradition for men to dance with men, and women
to dance with women at the reception. But, we'd like your permission to dance
not," says the rabbi. "It's immodest. Men and women always dance separately."
the ceremony I can't even dance with my own wife?"
answered the rabbi. "It's forbidden."
says the man, "What about sex? Can we finally have sex?"
replies the rabbi. "Sex is a mitzvah (good thing) within marriage, to have
different positions?" asks the man.
says the rabbi. "It's a mitzvah!"
top?" the man asks. "Sure," says the rabbi. "Go for it!
It's a mitzvah!"
"Sure! Another mitzvah!"
"On the kitchen
table?" "Yes, yes! A mitzvah!"
"Can we do
it on rubber sheets with a bottle of hot oil, a couple of vibrators, a leather
harness, a bucket of honey and a porno video?"
indeed. It's all a mitzvah!"
"Can we do
it standing up?"
"No." says the rabbi.
"Why not?" asks the man.
"Could lead to dancing."
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click
+ All turned on by biotech. Click
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available:
Click here. The full audio is available. Click
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click
+ When to sell stocks. 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
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