The Language of The Markets

Each and every day I watch the markets, I learn something new.

The markets are a language unlike any other. You can pick it up without hearing it. You can watch it go by, trade it, and invest with or against it. The markets are alive.

I could write about it all day. No wonder Jim Cramer did…and got rich doing it.

The markets are not just about prices. They are about companies, people, products, strategy and time.

It is a language you can’t master, though studying it is a worthwhile journey.

The markets don’t just make investors and traders do the wrong thing, they make governments, companies and executives zig when they should zag.

With all the talk about ‘walls’ and ‘Russia’ and ‘impeachment’ and ‘Fat Nixon’ it is in the markets that this theatre gets played out.

Not since 2008 I have I felt the markets under so much abuse. The endless rhetoric and the senseless futures and stock moving presidential tweets.

Luckily for the markets, some would argue the opposite of course, never have the leading companies been stronger in balance sheet, margins and scale.

It is interesting times for my favorite language.

Stocktwits Goes To 1,000 …And Some Design Updates

Yesterday, Stocktwits released a bunch of updates across the apps and web. The iOS and Android app got some redesigns with the focus on speed.

The biggest new feature was the move from 140 characters to 1,000 characters for messaging. For years the idea of longer form messaging has been debated. From the early feedback, we should never have debated it as our users are loving it.

As an example of a good use case I asked for some fresh ideas and because of the new character count. I received some great new ideas because people could express themselves better . Have a look.

One thing I have done from the day we first launched Stocktwits is ‘welcome’ as many people as possible that follow me. I like to say ‘welcome aboard’. I grew up in the era of ‘Cheers’ and I loved how Sam Malone, Coach and Woody would welcome people to the bar. Is that scalable? no. I like to tell founders in our portfolio that not every user/customer interaction has to scale.

Almost 100 percent of the time I get a nice response. At worst I get no response. Many times I get useful feedback that Stocktwits might not have got otherwise:

Happy Anniversary Ellen Lindzon

Yesterday Ellen and I celebrated our 23rd anniversary.

Like always, she said she was going off to get me a coffee at Starbucks but snuck off to Vegas with friends instead.

Adorable.

Ellen and I were set up on a blind date 26 years ago. The first date was the night Joe Carter hit a home run for The Blue Jays to win the world series. I was on the couch screaming and if Ellen had Tinder, this blog post would be about stocks.

I have no idea how Ellen puts up with me all these years. In fact, that is the first question 94 percent of people ask here when they meet her for the first time.

Ellen has a wicked sense of humor is how. She picks up on all the weirdness and silliness that I get a kick out of. She still tells all the smartasses that she loves me. She is an amazing woman, wife and mom.

Ellen was a bankruptcy attorney when I met her and really a rising star. When we had Rachel, she was thrilled to drop everything though because the law was not her life calling. I was so green at business she figured that she would get enough bankruptcy practice in her own home.

Over the years, Ellen has poured her extra time into helping families that have had trauma and now inserted herself into the foster care system in Phoenix working her way up to being a court appointed special advocate.

Her passion outside of helping others is real estate. For our family, Ellen has done an incredible job over the years of finding neighborhoods with untapped value and/or created value with extensive remodels. We now make Phoenix our home but keep a home in Coronado as well.

Now that we are back in Phoenix, the city she grew up in, Ellen has decided to sell real estate. Her sister Beth Jo owns a large firm in Phoenix called ROI Properties . Ellen knows the city better than anyone. She gets a kick out of the whole selling and buying process and never tires of the process. Her law background really helps come closing time in the paperwork heavy process.

It’s fun to see Ellen get back at it full time with passion.

Life is short.

Happy Anniversary Ellen.

Lindzanity – Episode 3 – Ross Hoffman From Mailroom to Board Room, Following Your Instincts, Salaries are Overrated and Betting on Yourself

It was a blast having Ross Hoffman on the podcast.

He’s lived a lifetime of growth in the last 11 years going from the mailroom at William Morris to very early employee at Youtube, to 7 years at Twitter culminating as the Head of Global Partnerships at Twitter and most recently Chief Business Officer a Headspace.

He’s the cool kind of unemployed at the moment, spending time with his family and figuring out what to do next.

He sat down to discuss his career, how he spotted and attached himself to rocketships and how he thinks about investing.

We shot this episode a few weeks ago before Facebook’s recent gap higher (so the predictions were not bad) and the day after Twitter’s big earnings gap to the upside. I think you will appreciate his insights on the internet leaders.

If you are a millennial, a gen-z, or own and operate any of the above, I think Hoff will be an inspiration as he discusses taking big risks and finding great mentors.

You can watch and listen on my YouTube channel right here (subscribe on Youtube) or listen on iTunes or Spotify (just search my name).

Momentum Monday – Those Darn Sunday Tweets From Fat Nixon

As a reminder, Marketsmith (by Investor’s Business Daily) is now a sponsor of the weekly show. All the charts you have been seeing in the videos and will continue to see are from Marketsmith. They are offering my readers a three week trial for $19.95. Click this link if you would like to try it out.

….

Last week I asked if we were too complacent and mentioned I was selling some shares and panicking early.

Today we are going to open a few percent lower because Fat Nixon felt like Sunday was a good time to tweet about raising tariffs on China.

This morning we will see how hungry we are for stocks.

Last night, Ivanhoff and I toured the markets for our regular Momentum Monday. Watch or listen right here.

The markets will likely shake off this tweet like it has every other, we just don’t know when.

Going into the weekend, stocks were looking strong.

Another good roundup I read this weekend was from Urban and his ‘Fat Pitch’. A little geekier than our Momentum Monday but a lot of good charts and stats.

Have a great week.

A Little Micro VC History …

Way back in 2005, I started writing small personal checks (in Phoenix) into software startups. My first small angel check was into local Phoenix Company Golf Now followed up by Lifelock. Both turned out to be great products, companies and exits. I was inspired by Fred Wilson, Bred Feld and Jeff Clavier. They were writing about all things angel investing.

Jeff Clavier had a great blog called ‘Softtech VC‘ where he would write about angel investing and software. I could not believe how much I was learning about investing.

I got to meet Jeff in 2006 because I went to a web 2.0 show and did a presentation about GolfNow. Jeff came up to me after the presentation and asked if he could invest. He liked the business. The company was not raising money and ended up being acquired by Comcast in 2007.

I was so lucky to stumble upon the leaders/greats in my industry as I started out. I had no idea that we were at the very beginning of web 2.0 or that what I was doing was unique. I just felt like I was part of this community because the these guys were writing and sharing and showing up at pitch events. In 2006, Brad co-founded Techstars with David Cohen in Boulder and it just felt right to be in Boulder and invest in and alongside those first year groups of companies, including David’s first fund of $4 million. That $4 million fund made seed investments in Twilio, Sendgrid (Twilio acquired Sendgrid as public companies) and Uber.

Jeff’s firm is now 15 years old and renamed ‘Uncork Capital’ and he dives into the history of his firm in this post. On Micro VC’s:

At the time, I did not anticipate the magnitude of the disruption the micro VC OGs were collectively bringing to early-stage investing — which has materialized over the last few years with the creation of 750+ seed firms. Capital efficient company creation created an opportunity for us to insert seed-stage financing in the ecosystem, and over time, we replaced the traditional Series A.

Congratulations Jeff, a godfather of the industry/business I still find myself working in and loving.

Uber The IPO – For Realz

I love being a Twitter armchair quarterback. This week I tweeted:

Back in August 2017 I wrote about the inevitable IPO and my history with the product and the few shares I had from an early indirect investment.

My armchair opinion at the time:

I do have my armchair quarterback opinions that I have shared publicly over the years. I believe UBER should have done an IPO by 2012-13. Not for my own liquidity (there has been plenty of liquidity for early investors that wanted to sell). I think the stock would have already traded well north of $80 billion as a public company (maybe we will never know). I also have to think Travis would still be CEO if they had IPO’d in 2012. Furthermore, I am pretty sure LYFT would not be as strongly in the picture if Uber had IPO’s earlier. LYFT was caught up in a financial game of chicken that to investors credit, they ponied up.

Tonight Uber has named a new CEO…at least the board has named one. His credentials look impeccable. It’s 2017 and Trump is President so of course he’s an Iranian immigrant to boot.

I hope Uber files for an IPO tomorrow. Valuations be damned. Let the public (I mean Blackrock and Vanguard) trade the stock.

Now we are here, S-1 and all.

Ben Thompson does his best to take it apart.

Should be an interesting week for $LYFT and $UBER as we see what investors settle on for the prices with both trading.

Have a great weekend.

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The Past, Present and Future of Financial Advice and Dear College Students (And Parents) Part 2

Because I am doing some podcasts, I have been listening to a few more.

This week on my drive to Tuscon I made Ellen listen to Patrick O’s (I have given up spelling his name), Invest Like Best interview with Michael Kitces. All of Patrick O’s podcasts are great and I say that not just because I have been a guest.

Michael is a known expert on the business of financial advice and now I know why. For the last 15 years I have been investing in financial service companies and Michael laid out most of my strategy. Of course, Michael explains it much better than I could and with a heaping of data and historical context.

Back in March I wrote a post titled ‘Dear College Students (and Parents).

Listening to this podcast would be a good next step.

You may not want to be in the business of financial advice, but one day you may make or inherit a lot of money and you want to be following Michael Kitces (and hopefully me).

PS – I have been studying for the exam to become a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) this month as well. Marc Andreessen and his firm have been doing the same thing.

Are We Too Complacent? …and My Colonoscopy

Nobody likes to panic early more than me.

Yesterday I sold some more Apple and Shopify to feed the profit gods.

Back in December I almost drowned in Apple and barely held on to my Shopify. Here was the play by play.

Shopify has now doubled this year after I had almost given up on it in December.

Apple is back above $210 and while I remain bullish, I would like to be able to buy more Apple in the next 20 percent selloff.

Some signs are all there for others to start selling.

For starters, I am the only person in America to have not filed an S-1 to go public this year. I love seeing endless IPO’s, but I know that with IPO’s comes supply and with endless supply comes lower prices (at least generally).

I am seeing a lot of penny stock biotech stocks double and trend on Stocktwits. Things are a little giddy.

I have watched some good traders get chopped around for months in this low volatility market and I sense they will have their days in the sun soon.

Overall it just feels complacent.

Speaking of complacent, it has been a very long time since I had a colonoscopy. I was supposed to have one when I tuned 50, but I am a reformed hypochondriac so I waited until I was 53.

I don’t miss my hypochondriac days (neither does Ellen) where if I read about a disease and symptoms on the internet, I had the symptoms and disease.

It was tiring and expensive.

My internet friends coached me through the pre-game colonoscopy drinks and the post drink fireworks.

I was watching Game of Thrones at 4 am yesterday while the last fluids in my body were sent flushing.

Once I got to the doctors office for the ‘procedure’ I was amazed at how smoothly everything went. I handed them my iPhone, they gave me the Michael Jackson sleeping drug and the next thing I knew (60 minutes later) I was eating breakfast with Ellen.

Here is what my report said:

A beautiful, young colon. No Polyps, No Obstruction, No Collusion, No Russians, No Nothing!

Funny doctor.