Dot.Com Disasters-- 02/08/01
A left hand column...

One Year Ago
Handmade HTML -- 02/08/00 in which I discussed various aspects of having an online journal, including some of the things that result in an increased hit rate. In that entry I mentioned that my entries were all one hundred percent handmade HTML. That's not true of today's entry, nor of the past couple of entries. I am using IBM WebSphere Homepage Builder.

Why? Well, because I am teaching about WebSphere... no, not Homepage Builder... I'm teaching about WebSphere Application Server and about using VisualAge for Java to build servlets and JSPs and EJBs to run under WebSphere Application Server. However, I do mention WebSphere Studio during that course and spend a few minutes showing what it can do. So, I decided that I should start using this stuff. First I'll try Homepage Builder... and after I begin to get a bit of comfort using that, I'll move on to WebSphere Studio.

Yeah, I know... my pages look pretty much the same using this WYSIWYG tool as when I built them by hand.

What I'm Reading:
tech stuff: WebSphere V3.5 Handbook
relaxation: some novel about CIA vs. terrorists (which is on my nightstand but I cannot recall title and author)

the background color is "#ebc79e" which (you will have noticed if you had followed the above link to 02/08/00) is the same background color I used then. I usually tend toward pale blues and grays for background colors, but sometimes I get tired of them.
It's somewhat amazing watching all those companies going down in flames. Shooting stars blazing across the sky. Icarus flying too near the sun.

Just two years and a couple months ago -- early in December of '98 -- I was looking at some of these IPOs and especially at some of the predictions for growth in stock price for I thought that it would be a good idea to invest in stock. This would not have been a long term investment. I said that I would hold the stock for twelve months -- fifteen months top, but preferably just twelve months. No, I didn't do that. I did have enough money to buy five hundred shares -- we had finally sold our old house and had gotten some cash out of it despite the low state of the real estate market where we used to live -- it was just that, although I thought this would be a winning situation, I do not like to gamble. I tend to invest for the long term, mutual funds inside a 401K plan, not making bets on individual stocks. I own stock in just three companies. 20 shares in an electric utility that we bought many years ago because (1) it had a dividend reinvestment plan and (2) it amused me to think that part of my monthly gas and electric bill was being paid back to me (we did accumulate a nice amount of stock via the dividend reinvestment, but sold them off a few years ago to help pay for a third-hand Honda Civic I bought); shares in a company I used to work for (held in my 401K) because that's how they paid their matching contribution; shares in my current employer because (1) they have a payroll deduction purchase plan and (2) I can buy at a discounted price. That's it... everything else is mutual funds in 401K plans, etc.

But I didn't buy If I had bought it (selling at around $30 a share at that time) and sold it one year later (in the neighborhood of $100 a share) I would have tripled my money. Instead I left the money in the bank and in the fall of '99 I bought a new car (1999 Toyota Corolla) for cash. Yes, if I made that investment I could have bought the 2000 Subaru Forrester that I had really wanted (figure $23k for the Subaru vs. $15k for the Toyota)... and still have had enough left to pay the taxes on my winnings... uh, I mean investment earnings. But maybe I would have gotten greedy... maybe I would have hung on past the peak and had to watch as my potential profits dwindled away as the stock sank...

So... the Toyota gets me back and forth to work and takes me to the market, etc... Maybe I could have had a Subaru... and maybe even a BMW?... but that's only looking back at it... I could have guessed wrong... could have tanked just as soon as I bought it... (maybe it gained so nicely because I didn't buy it? (Can't you picture all these Wall Street types waiting to see if I'm going to buy? Jim bought shares in; quick dump all our shares! Look... He didn't buy; let's load up on that stock.)

Some people got very carried away by startups that had nothing but a in their name and a flashy website (and some of them hadn't even developed a website yet, they were pure concept)... Build marketshare... okay, that makes sense (but what about profits?)... but what if there is no market?

It's very strange... One of the real problems (IMHO) with companies today is a too great a focus on quarterly results... there is no long term vision, no real planning for the future, no investment in the future, everything is aimed at pumping up this quarter's results because otherwise the stock price will be beaten down and if that happens then top management could loose their cushy jobs... Okay, but some of these dot.coms were truly just pipedreams and pixie dust, no reality to them at all and yet people ran to them to invest money... The behavior was just the opposite of my complaint about most companies... just totally ignoring the reality of current day burn rate while looking only at some possible future results.
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