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Bumble’s new billionaire. Time to feel really good about technology. Stocks to buy now.

Bumble’s IPO (BMBL) turned Whitney Wolfe Herd into a self-made billionaire. Ms. Herd, 31, also rang the Nasdaq opening bell with her 1-year-old son in her arms. She came from Match’s Tinder, founding Bumble in 2014. That’s under 7 years to become a billionaire. Some sort of record.

The two leading dating sites — Bumble and Match — have done hugely well. Bumble closed up 68% on its IPO yesterday.

With Bumble women control the contact process. Both have clever ways of sucking money out of you. Cramer compared them last night, suggesting that Bumble was perhaps the better investment now. Look at Match over the past two years. I now own a little of both.

You can watch a rerun of last night’s Mad Money on the web.

Bitcoin is getting more serious.

Which means it’s getting more buzz and the price keeps edging up. Here’s the last month:

Ed’s favorite bitcoin “plays” — SQ, PYPL, MSTR and GBTC. Mine too.

PayPal is today’s favorite.

Next favorite laptop

It’s the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano. I will buy it some time this weekend. There’s a pleasure in fiddling around with which model I will get.

I’ve been using a ThinkPad X1 Carbon for over year — I love it and it’s what I’m typing on this moment.

The ThinkPad X1 Nano is newer, faster, lighter but with a slightly bigger screen. You can read more at PC Magazine. Click here.

Here are two reviews, courtesy YouTube.

Favorite street sign

My Italian Mother

Giuseppe excitedly tells his mother he’s fallen in love and that he is going to get married.

He says, “Just for fun, Mama, I’m going to bring over three women and you try and guess which one I’m going to marry.” The mother agrees.

The next day, he brings three beautiful women into the house, sits them down on the couch and they chat for a while.

He then says, “Okay, Mama, guess which one I am going to marry?”

Mama says immediately, “The one on the right.”

“That’s amazing, Mama. You’re right. How did you know?”

Mama replies: “I don’t like her.”

Time to Feel Good

A New York Times columnist called David Brooks argues what I’ve bene pushing for eons — that we live in the greatest tech boom ever.

He calls it “coming.” I believe it’s here. Here’s his piece from today’s New York Times:

A few months ago, the economic analyst Noah Smith observed that scientific advance is like mining ore. You find a vein you think is promising. You take a risk and invest heavily. You explore it until it taps out.

The problem has been that over the last few decades only a few veins have really been paying off and changing lives. Discoveries in information technology have obviously been massive – the internet and the smartphone. Thanks in part to public investment, clean energy innovation has been fast and plentiful. The price of solar modules has declined by 99.6 percent since 1976.

But life-altering breakthroughs, while still significant, are fewer than they once were. If you were born in 1900 and died in 1970, you lived from the age of the horse-drawn carriage to the era of a man on the moon. You saw the widespread use of electricity, air-conditioning, aviation, the automobile, penicillin, and so much else. But if you were born in 1960 and lived until today, the driving and flying experience would be safer, but otherwise the same, and your kitchen, aside from the microwave, is basically unchanged.

In 2011, the economist Tyler Cowen published a prescient book, “The Great Stagnation,” exploring why scientific advance was slowing down. Peter Thiel complained that we wanted flying cars, but we got Twitter.

But this technological lull may be ending. Suddenly a lot of smart people are writing about many veins that look promising. The first and most obvious is vaccines. The amazing fact about Covid-19 vaccines is that Moderna scientists had designed the first one by Jan. 13, 2020. They had the vaccine before many people even thought the disease was a threat.

It’s not only a new vaccine but also a new kind of vaccine. The mRNA vaccines will help us teach our bodies to fight pathogens more effectively and could lead to breakthroughs in combating all sorts of diseases. For example, researchers have hope for mRNA cancer vaccines, which wouldn’t prevent cancer, but could help your body fight some forms.

In energy, geothermal breakthroughs are generating tremendous excitement. As David Roberts notes in an excellent explainer in Vox, the molten core of the earth is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, roughly the same temperature as the sun. If we could tap 0.1 percent of the energy under the earth’s surface we could supply humanity’s total energy needs for two million years.

Engineers are figuring out how to mine the heat in the nonporous rock beneath the surface. As Roberts writes, “If its more enthusiastic backers are correct, geothermal may hold the key to making 100 percent clean electricity available to everyone in the world.”

This is not even to mention fusion. In one of those stories that felt epochal when you read it, my Times colleague Henry Fountain reported last September on how M.I.T. researchers had designed a compact nuclear reactor that should work. China currently has an experimental thermonuclear reactor that is reaching 270 million degrees Fahrenheit.

It feels like autonomous vehicles have been three years away for the last 10 years. But sooner or later they will arrive. Waymo has already started a driverless rides service in Phoenix – like Uber and Lyft, but with nobody in the front seat.

Meanwhile, in the electric car sector, Toyota is developing a vehicle that can go 310 miles on one charge and can charge from zero to full in 10 minutes.

One could go on: artificial intelligence; space exploration seems to be heating up; a variety of anti-aging technologies are being pursued; on Wednesday The Times reported on an anti-obesity drug. There’s even lab-grown meat. This is meat grown from animal cells that would enable us to enjoy steaks and Chicken McNuggets without actually slaughtering cows and chickens.

Obviously, all these veins are not going to pay off, but what if we gradually created a world with clean cheap energy, driverless cars and more energetic productive years in our lives?

On the plus side, global productivity would surge. What economists call total factor productivity has been grinding along with 0 to 2 percent increases for years. But a series of breakthroughs could keep productivity surging. Our economy, and world, would feel very different.

On the negative side, the dislocations would be enormous, too. What happens to all those drivers? What happens to people who work on ranches if labs take a significant share of the market? The political difficulties will be complicated by the fact that the people who will profit from these high-tech industries tend to live in the highly educated blue parts of the country, while the old industry workers who would be displaced tend to live in the less educated red parts.

We would be riding the tiger of rapid change. The economy would grow faster but millions of people would have trouble finding a place in it. Universal basic income would become a red-hot topic.

Government investment has spurred a lot of this progress. Government would have to come up with aggressive ways to mitigate the shocks. But it is better to face the challenges of dynamism than the challenges of stasis. Life would be longer and healthier, energy would be cleaner and cheaper, there would be a greater sense of progress and wonder.

In a week of political gloom, I thought you’d like some good news.

My local town warns about vaccine scams

+ You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.

+ You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine.

+ Nobody legit will call about the vaccine and ask for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number.

Warn your family elders. Learn more:

Want to travel after getting vaccinated?

Everybody does. I’m itching to go to Portland and visit the grandkids. But the experts say NO.

The Washington Post has a piece today “Want to travel after getting vaccinated? Precautions are still needed, experts say.”

Because we don’t know the full scale of the spread of new coronavirus variants and still have unanswered questions about vaccines, Jessica Malaty Rivera, an epidemiologist with the COVID Tracking Project, said even vaccinated Americans need to remain vigilant about their public health mitigation efforts. To that end, she recommends that travel still be limited to essential trips.

For vaccinated people who do choose to travel, Rivera urges that they choose trips wisely and use mitigation strategies to protect themselves and others. While renting an RV and driving to the mountains might be safe, for example, she recommends avoiding high-risk activities such as flying, traveling to crowded places, and gathering with anyone outside of one’s household.

For the rest of the piece, click here.

Everyone has cabin fever and wants to travel

You can buy airlines you pick. (LUV is doing the best.) Hard. Or you can buy an ETF called JETS, which owns all the major carriers. Its top holdings are LUV, DAL, UAL and AAL. JETS has done well recently. Here’s the last two years.

Should have bought it at $12 when it was on sale.

The Final Thought

I notice friends are holding cash —  pending a signal from God (or whoever) that “Now is the right time to buy.”

The rightest time to buy is when stocks are on sale, i.e. down.

There are some boring stocks that are down — because they have little or no growth.

But the ones with growth (and the technology for more growth — like PayPal) are expensive.

I don’t know if they’ll ever get cheap, or when this miracle might happen.

Buy a little now.

In times like this, I tend to go with variations on my favorite investing scheme — Dollar Cost Averaging.

In short, keep investing. If you need some cash, sell some stock.

But don’t sit on cash — earning nothing. All you’re doing is giving your bank free money.

And frankly, they don’t deserve your charity.

The Australian Open is playing

It’s on ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel.

I started playing at 6:15 this morning. Great way to begin a day. Sadly, I lost.

Why I write this column

+ I teach myself about investing. Writing about something is the best way to learn.

+ My readers often share their investment ideas with me. That’s great. My readers are much smarter than I am. Please share your best ideas with me.

+ I enjoy writing.

I’m just update the list of stocks I like. the list is in the right column.

See you Monday — Harry Newton