Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM EST Thursday, July 27, 2006: It's a good time to start your own new company. To wit:

+ Technology, in general, is cheaper, more powerful, more reliable etc. Computer technology, specifically, is much better. Putting up a web site is much cheaper. The big story in computing is something called virtualization. Instead of using one machine for this application, another machine for another application, you join all the computers together and the virtualization software runs the applications when they're needed on the machine that has free time. This brings utilization up from 10% per computer to 90% and dramatically cuts the number of computers you need.
+ The pace of change has speeded up. That means new opportunities to do things differently. Think: when was the last time you shopped at a small, neighborhood stationery store? Or a small neighborhood electronics store?
+ Outsourcing to India and China means you can make your fancy new product much cheaper.
+ Getting your business up on the Internet and advertising your products or services through Google is a real easy, fast and relatively cheap way of testing the waters.
+ When it comes time to sell your new company, there'll be a zillion private equity firms who'll want to buy. See yesterday's column for more. Click here.

New investment opportunities in housing: For years, there's been no money in buying apartment buildings and renting the apartments. With low interest rates and ridiculous mortgage terms (like no principal repayment for five years), buying a house or an apartment has been too easy for even the most indigent. Conversion to condos was a great game. But not rentals. Now interest rates are up, the banks have figured the idiocy of lending to deadbeats, the rental market is coming back. And there'll soon be opportunities in distress housing as borrowers abandon houses they have no equity in and the banks will want to unload their disasters.

As the housing market turns, you need to be ultra-careful.
+ If you're looking to buy a house for yourself, bid low. My friend Seth just picked up his dream house in suburban Washington, D.C. for $447,500. Six months ago the owner wanted $475,000, but had dropped the price recently to $457,000. Seth bought a 2300 square foot townhouse with three bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, the best appliances and gorgeous wood floors. He and his about-be-wife are ecstatic.

Meantime, the Washington Post reports housing prices are falling in that hot market. The paper reported yesterday that "the drops are significant because they mark the first time in half a decade that home prices have fallen in a 12-month span, illustrating just how much the real estate landscape has changed after five years of double-digit growth in home prices." For more on what the paper said, click here.

+ If you need to sell your house, do it quickly. Prices are likely to tumble further.

Ain't America wonderful? Gas prices are up. That's bad. No, that's good. That spells opportunity. This week a Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors unveiled a beautiful new sports car:

Its 100% electric, does 0-60 in four seconds, has a top speed of 130 mph, gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon, goes 250 miles on a charge -- a full charge takes 3 1/2 hours -- and costs about 1 penny a mile to fuel.

"Most electric cars were designed for people who didn't even like cars," Tesla's founder and chief executive Martin Eberhard said. "This approach — this appeal to civic virtue instead of driving pleasure — limited electric cars' appeal to a small albeit enthusiastic group of environmentalists. I wanted to build a car that I wanted to drive. And I like fast cars."

"We want to do something about global warming," says Elon Musk, Tesla chairman and its principal investor. "But you can't achieve your philanthropic objective unless the company works."

"I don't know too much about the Tesla," says Roland Hwang, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, "but two-thirds less greenhouse gases and 0 to 60 in four seconds? Who could be against that?"

The car will start shipping in summer of 2007. Price $100,000. For more, click here. I wonder if my wife would like one? I certainly do.

Looking for the best airline fare? Yesterday I wrote, check out A reader emailed, is better. Sadly (for my ego), I think he may be right. Both sites crawl web sites searching for the best deal on the trip you want. They compare airlines and give you choices. Three things are great about the sites: First, they save you time. Second, they present many choices. Third, you can modify, narrow and widen your search in a whole bunch of neat ways -- where and when you leave to how many stops, which airlines, etc.

This morning at 11 AM, TriPath Imaging holds a conference call to discuss the Company's second quarter 2006 financials. You can listen on 888-344-3716 or on 706-634-4926. ID number 3254252. The stock was a favorite of mine for eons. But management disappointed by fluffing FDA submissions and over-estimating sales growth. Many large institutions sold TriPath in recent months because of their unhappiness with management. Things, I believe, have improved. We should hear more about FDA submissions and faster growth. One neat motivation: Their largest customer, Quest Diagnostic has millions of warrants that don't have any value until at least the stock is 50% above where TriPath's stock presently is. If things do work out, the best news is that all the companies in the health imaging business -- Digene, Cytyc, Ventana and Genprobe -- sell for much higher multiples.

This is spooky: Google lets type a telephone number into their search bar. It will give you the person's name and address. If you then hit, Mapquest you will get a map to the person's house. If your child gives out his phone number, someone can now look it up to find out where your kind lives. This is not good. If you want to block Google from divulging your private information, simply click on your telephone number and then click on the PhoneBook Removal Form. Removal takes 48-hours.

The Nigerian Scam moves to Iraq

Good Day,
I hope my email meets you well. I am in need of your assistance. My name is Sgt Williams Baker, Jr. I am in the Engineering military unit here in Ba'qubah in Iraq,we have about $20 Million US dollars that we want to move out of the country. My partners and I need a good partner someone we can trust. It is oil money and legal.
We have made arrangements with a Diplomatic courier service that will move the funds out of Iraq as a family treasure. The most important thing is that can we trust you? Once the funds get to you, you take your 20% out and keep our own 80%. Your own part of this deal is to find a safe place where the funds can be sent to. Our own part is sending it to you. If you are interested I will furnish you with more details. But the whole process is simple and we must keep a low profile at all times. I look forward to your reply and co-operation, and I thank you in advance as I anticipate your co-operation.
Waiting for your urgent response
Regards, Sgt. Williams Baker

Norwegians are the new blondes
Ole and Lena were out walking and Lena clutched her heart and fell to the sidewalk. Ole got out his cell phone and called 9-1-1.

The Operator said "Where are you?"

Ole answered, "We were walking and Lena is on the sidewalk on Eucalyptus Street."

The operator asked, "How do you spell that?"

The phone seemed to go dead. The operator kept shouting for Ole. She could hear him panting. He finally came back on line and said, "I dragged her over to Oak Street, that's O-A-K."

Norwegians are the new blondes, part 2
Two Norwegian hunters from Minnesota got a pilot to fly them to Canada to hunt moose. They bagged six. As they started loading the plane for the return trip, the pilot said the plane could take only four moose.

The two lads objected strongly, "Last year we shot six and the pilot let us put them all on board and he had the same plane as yours." Reluctantly, the pilot gave in and all six were loaded. However, even on full power, the little plane couldn't handle the load and went down a few moments after takeoff.

Climbing out of the wreck one Norski asked the other, "Any idea where we are?"

"Yaaah, I tink we's pretty close to where we crashed last year."

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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty 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 Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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