I sat on the trading desk of a large hedge fund on California Street in San Francisco in late 1998, contemplating our position in Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and worried we would get another down draft before I got my bonus.
The fund had owned shares in Yahoo since the IPO in 1996 at the issue price of $12.50. Shares had opened trading at $33 and traded $43 that day, and the fund would own these shares until 1999 when Yahoo bought Broadcast.com from Mark Cuban and his band of Indiana bar owners and promoters.
The rest of the story now embeds itself in TV Shows like Shark Tank and other entrepreneurial quests, but the real mettle for investors was tested in navigating a market that was in the final stages of its 5-year move and was about to collapse. The dot.com bubble was a 40-year business cycle jammed into 5 years, and I was right smack in the middle of it. I learned from my days in the trading pits of Chicago, that the only thing that was important was price.
Yahoo shares traded $475 in 2000, and it was the most valuable company in the world, as Cuban was plotting to buy a sports franchise from Don Snyder and become the upstart owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Yahoo made a CEO change in March 2001 firing Tim Koogle and hiring Terry Semel, and Yahoo would make a high never to be eclipsed.
I tell you this story because Yahoo shares in 1996 were what Digital Currency is in 2017, an upstart over valued asset that surely only fools would own. What was this internet anyway? Why would a computer be a critical part of our life, and why do we need an operating system or a search engine, and what the hell was an internet portal anyway?
Investors who owned the shares were asking these questions, cab drivers were asking these questions, yet they both owned shares, with zero idea why they owned them other than they were looking to capitalize on the Dot.com move that was making everyone in San Francisco rich.
My journey has always been like a bug to the light, I seemed to follow the beam all the way to the epicenter – no matter the city, the marketplace or the asset. I had a nose for volatility and a nose for what would move the most. First it was derivatives on the floor of the CME then it was internet stocks in San Francisco at a large hedge fund – today it is digital currency and I want to tell you my tale and why I think the Alt- Coins are undervalued (Alt-Coins are anything but Bitcoin which is the mother ship, queen bee).
Might I also point out that Apple was $16 and Amazon was $10 while Yahoo traded $435. Yahoo was terribly over valued and the FANG stocks would end up exploding in value while the internet,portals and tech hardware stocks would stay steady.
Microsoft would flounder while Amazon disguised itself as a book salesman who would own the Washington Post and deliver packages via a drone and become the largest retailer in the world and buy Whole Foods. Google was yet to IPO and search was a term no one used.
Remember these famous predictions? “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication,” said William Orton, President of Western Union, in 1876. “Alternating current is just a waste of time. No one will ever use it ever,” said Thomas Edison, in 1889. “There is no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share,” said Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, in 2007.
So I don’t want to hear about lofty valuations and mispriced assets. We have a checkered history as a culture investing in fads, and missing the value right in front of us. Mark Zuckerberg created a Social Media empire from his Harvard dorm room, and we will live in a world in 2020 that will be dominated by self driving cars, digital currency and life altering biotechnology that will extend the lives of our children and grandchildren when the average lifespan will be 150 and not 75. Meaning you will not retire at 65, but you will work and have a full career to age 90.
The world is awash in change and digital currency is telling us that a decentralized monetary system is the only way to satisfy the collective and give control back to the consumer and remove it from worthless banks and unstable controlling governments. Men and women will no longer accept being controlled.
Decentralization – the core spirit of Cryptocurrency – will be the buzz word as we head into 2020. It started with the younger generation not answering their phones and texting, and it will end up in your digital wallet. As a society we do not want to be told what to do by anyone – ever.
I can make some wild guesses, but no one really knows who the winners and losers will be, and if they tell you they know, they are lying. You go fill in the blanks below, these are my back of the envelope guesses.
Bitcoin = The S&P 500 Index
Ethereum = The Russell 2000
Litecoin = Yahoo, AOL and Lycos
DASH = Google, Search
Ripple = JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs
Ethereum Classic = Intel, Cisco
Cardano = Apple
Monero = Amazon