James Altucher Strikes Again

A few years ago, I was working on a book about the psychology of money — a book I put aside when Freakonomics began to happen. The first chapter of the book was about a fellow named James Altucher, whom I’ve blogged about before. James’s relationship with money was fascinating and precarious. He grew up in a middle-class family that lived beyond its means, in large part because his dad was about to hit it big with a computer business and the family was banking on that success. Then the success happened, and the family lived even larger — until the business suddenly fell apart, leaving everyone devastated.

Years later, James struck out on his own and he, too, struck it big. This was during the early dotcom years. (His company, which designed corporate websites, was bought in the sort of corporate roll-up that was common then.) But, as if he couldn’t help retracing his father’s steps, he too lost most of his pile of money. Once again, he was devastated, and he spent about a year just trying to regain his footing.

I met him just as that dark year was ending. I immediately liked James a great deal. He was one of the smartest people I’d ever met, and one of the most curious, and he didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. What I liked best was that he was very creative and that his creativity didn’t seem to respect the borders that typically keep people from trying something new. So one day he decided to write to TheStreet.com to see if he could write some articles for them. To his surprise, they said yes.

He wrote prolifically — for TheStreet.com but also, soon after, for the Financial Times and elsewhere. It didn’t matter, to him or them, that he wasn’t a “financial journalist”: he was just so smart about analyzing companies and trends and ideas that he always had something interesting to say.

Then he started a hedge fund, which worked out pretty well, and then, going back to his early web roots, he started a website called Stockpickr.com, the “stock idea network.” It is pure James: creative, useful, open-minded. TheStreet.com liked it so much that it bought a piece of the company.

Now here’s the big news: Last week, TheStreet.com bought the rest of Stockpickr.com. After a downslide that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, Altucher is back on top, thanks to little more than his own hard work. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Congratulations, James.


puneetvohra

@Nobugme:
I'd not be as sure about your assertion.
I would compare stock picking to a million monkeys typing on a million keyboards. Yes, one monkey would surely produce a Shakespeare, but is it justified to bring that monkey into limelight, study his habits and show the world how 'The Monkey' wrote the Shakespeare?
I am not asserting that stock picking is same as banging away blindfolded on a keyboard, but the difference may be too small to be noticed so easily.
What is one man's skill may be another man's luck.

BernieLam

Tying this back to economics, James was also the catalyst for an interesting debate last week between Becker and Posner on their blog regarding the benefits of higher education (from one of his FT columns). Here is Becker's reference: http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2007/04/the_benefits_of.html

One more feather in his hat for the month.

majikthise

Cool. Let's hope he's learned his lesson and resists the urge to live beyond his means.

M.B.

What a terrific story! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Chris Mealy

I'd be more impressed with the guy if picking stocks wasn't a such a dumb thing to do. People, index funds!

jeffstier

Indeed, it couldn't have happened to a nicr or smartr guy.

lermit

What's his formal education?

.lermit

lermit

Oh, and both Steve-os, I'd be delighted to know where the apple/orange logo comes from. It does ring some bell. Maybe we did have something in common beside stepping on other people's footground.

.lermit

nobugme

Chris, index funds are great for clueless diversification. But there are other people (Warren Buffett) who can value a business better than the market. These people pick stocks that are undervalued and wait for the market to eventually adjust.

lermit

Oh, and that's also called 'turning in a profit'. Sell me some of those other books too.

.lermit

GBM

An excellent and accurate depiction of a man I've had the pleasure of working with and learning from since he started writing for TSC. Congratulations indeed James.

Dennis

Stockpikr.com is a great site, one that I visit often. It's also heartening to know that Mr. Altucher succeeded as a financial journalist without any credential. A happy story.

jkasbury

Plus, he looks like you [Steven]. At least in that picture.

Ryan

He is very smart and always seems to have an uncanny ability to have his finger on the pulse.

http://www.kandlfinance.com

kingkoehler

Interesting piece about a guy who manipulates the market for personal gain without regard for the damage he causes

think naked short manipulation on small cap companies with no intent to deliver on those shorts

is his finger on the pulse of the mom and pop investor as their life savings take a dirtbath by guys like this?

give it a rest - Ted Kadzinski was a brillian guy - but he too was a self indulgent sociopath

peter

this guy is a manipulator ..
he owns his own hedge fund and he dumps and pumps and bashes stocks all for personal gain ..

i wish he would be more truthfull is all

Stu

Both were brilliant. Thanks for the synopsis.....and yes CONGRATS JAMES. www.microcapreports.com is better than the street

puneetvohra

@Nobugme:
I'd not be as sure about your assertion.
I would compare stock picking to a million monkeys typing on a million keyboards. Yes, one monkey would surely produce a Shakespeare, but is it justified to bring that monkey into limelight, study his habits and show the world how 'The Monkey' wrote the Shakespeare?
I am not asserting that stock picking is same as banging away blindfolded on a keyboard, but the difference may be too small to be noticed so easily.
What is one man's skill may be another man's luck.

BernieLam

Tying this back to economics, James was also the catalyst for an interesting debate last week between Becker and Posner on their blog regarding the benefits of higher education (from one of his FT columns). Here is Becker's reference: http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2007/04/the_benefits_of.html

One more feather in his hat for the month.

majikthise

Cool. Let's hope he's learned his lesson and resists the urge to live beyond his means.