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May 10, 2017 – Comments (1) | RELATED TICKERS: AAPL , SBGI , AER

CAPS launched publicly in fall 2006. I don't recall how I found the site, but I was part of it almost from the beginning - my first picks (several still active) were made on October 2nd of that year.

At that point I had been investing for nearly a decade already, getting through the dot-com bubble, 9/11, and whatever else during that era with mixed results. But with CAPS I found a resource that boosted my knowledge and sharpened my stock picking ability.

Simple things like the day's top performers and worst performers, screening tools, and of course the ratings of investors wiser and more experienced than I, guided me to companies that I would never have been aware of otherwise. Even better, the invaluable commentary explaining why other players had made the decisions they made - much of it funny and on-point.

I became familiar with the valuable P/E ratio, learned more about shorting, played around with investing AGAINST trash stocks, foused on dividends, won a CAPS contest, and spent real money to invest in good companies being overlooked by the mainstream. Success in picking on CAPS turned into real-world choices that made a big difference in my actual investment account.

In 2016 my real-world stock account, which began in 1998 with $2,000 (I added about $2,500 over time), was worth over ten times that amount - forty-seven thousand and change, depending on how the day closed. I sadly cashed out much of that last fall, closing out long-time investments, and used the profits to make a good size payment on a house for my family. I held onto some investments for later, and much of that will go this year to starting a business of my own.

While my best performing investment in that portfolio was selected before CAPS existed, my awareness of when to sell and not sell that stock, and my choice to invest in several other companies that did well, came at least in part from this community.

And for that, CAPS, and CAPS players, I thank you. I thank you for all that you did collectively and individually to help me learn and grow as an investor. I thank you for the knowledge that translated into earnings and physical property that benefits me, my spouse, and my children every day. And for the investment returns allowing me to begin my own small company.

Mixed with this appreciation is also sadness, as I visit CAPS occasionally and see what the community has become now. Gone are the daily best performers on the homepage. Individual stock listings now go to the main fool page instead of the CAPS ticker pages with ratings and commentary. Blogs and comments come from low-rated spammers, sitting unread and unwanted like last week's tuna sandwich - yet not removed.

The decline began years ago, with pointless redesigns that added no value but pushed players to the main fool site, moderation than punished valuable contributors and did nothing to remove spam and canned advertising. Broken links, clickbait, focus on paid content with no value. Valuable players slowly left, and I joined them - I had better things to do than battle the site, and I had proven my ability on CAPS long before.

Now I occasionally revisit, often in the futile hope of finding information, and see this site that at one point had so much potential and contributed so much to my abilities, and was also honestly a lot of fun, reduced to little more than a ghost. The MySpace of social stock picking. And I feel sad for those future investors who won't have the learning opportunities we had here back in the day.

Those responsibile should be ashamed of themselves for what they've allowed this to become, despite all that it was and could have been. And those of us who benefitted should leave grateful for what we did get during that window when it was at its peak.

Good luck and God bless you with your future endeavors.  [more]



China's True Colors

January 15, 2010 – Comments (9) | RELATED TICKERS: GOOGL , BIDU , FXI

This week we've read "shocking" news that the Chinese government (or its affiliates) have been involved in schemes to hack Google G-Mail user accounts to steal information from human rights activists and have been involved in a long term plan to infiltrate Adobe software before its release, potentially invading the privacy of millions around the world.  [more]



Fast Company: Making Microsoft Cool

May 26, 2008 – Comments (5) | RELATED TICKERS: AAPL , MSFT , MDCA

There's an article in June's issue of Fast Company (actually the cover story) about Microsoft's new ad agency, hired specifically to do a "hit" on Apple in retaliation for the PC vs. Mac ad campaign. I found that it just proved the point again that Microsoft is unable to compete on the merits of its products and must resort to marketing and branding to sell itself.  [more]



Housing's Boomer Bust

January 03, 2008 – Comments (12)

For several years before the current housing slowdown, I had an ongoing argument with people in my family, particularly my dad, about the value of real estate as a long-term investment. I felt my money would be better spent in the stock market. But my father always trotted out the old saw about how "they" aren't making any more of "it" (it being land) and how property is always a solid investment that goes up in value. Basically the same thing we keep hearing from housing bulls. I resisted pressure to buy property and kept my cash in stocks, which was, in hind-sight, a good move on my part.  [more]

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