Mod note: Blast from the Past - "Best of Eddie."
A big hat tip to The Reformed Broker for finding this gem.
Imagine becoming a hedge fund manager with no formal training whatsoever. It's the dream of every early finance major at some point. Skip all this Well that's exactly what Andy Zaky did - and it cost his investors every penny they sent him.school and the debt that goes along with it, just publish my own research on Seeking Alpha, and let the money come rolling in, right?
To be fair, Zaky first established himself as a sort of AAPL wunderkind. Though he had no formal training in financial management or analysis, he did graduate from UCLA and UCLA Law School. He took to writing about Apple on Seeking Alpha and developed a healthy following because of the accuracy of his predictions. He claimed to have learned all he knows about stocks and finance from the Internet.
Then he started a subscription newsletter which was all AAPL, all the time. At first he charged $49 a month, but when the newsletter grew even more popular he raised the price to $200 a month - and still signed up 700 subscribers. I'll give you a minute to do the math on that.
Meanwhile, AAPL kept burning up the index and making Zaky look like a genius. So he did the only thing a rational newsletter publisher could do: he started an all-AAPL hedge fund.
With a minimum investment of $250,000, Zaky quickly signed up 28 LPs (at an average of $378,000) and then raised the minimum to $500,000.
You can probably guess how the rest worked out, but it's worth reading the article to see just how badly the wheels fell off. To make a long story short (no pun intended) Zaky bet the ranch on AAPL calls while the stock went into the dumper and he lost every penny. To make matters worse, the Joe Six-Pack's who didn't have the money to join the hedge fund but traded off his advice from the newsletter lost entire retirement accounts. Oops.
It's a pretty fascinating tale, really. Only in the Internet age could a guy like this make this happen as quickly as he did. I'm not saying that there weren't no-name analysts who made it big before the Internet - there certainly were. But the Internet tends to speed the whole process up and, once you're Internet famous, it has to be difficult to resist the temptation to cash in on it. I have no doubt that Zaky's intentions were pure, but this is what happens all too often when you start believing your own press.
So be honest - how many of you are now inspired to start writing for Seeking Alpha in a bid to avoid the whole two-year analyst grind in the hopes of a jump to the buy side? Two percent of $10 million AUM is still $200,000, which is nothing to sneeze at. Not to mention the $140,000 a month you're pulling in monthly newsletter subscription fees.
If Zaky proves anything, you don't even have to know what you're doing...