7 Reasons to Hate Me

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This is reprinted from a WSJ article from March but is appropriate today for various reasons:

Over the past decade or so I’ve accumulated a number of people who hate me. The list below is not exhaustive, but it provides a guide to possible reasons you might be in that crowd.

I make you $41 million

A reader of mine showed me his company. He had received an offer for about $10 million and wanted to know what I thought. I offered to put his company through an official auction process. I dressed up the company ( “dress up” meant sort of a cross between a cheap Halloween costume or something you might wear in a second-grade school production) and solicited offers from about 20 different companies. We ended up taking an offer for $41 million. I remember sitting in the room with him at the lawyer’s office when the cash got wired to him. His life changed that second.

How to sell a company: It’s what I call the 20-6-3-1 rule (too many numbers to be an official rule):

  1. Send a letter or phone call to 20 possible suitors
  2. About six of them will respond with interest and want followup-calls
  3. About two to three of those will make offers
  4. One will be the winner.

I proceeded to set up his family office with the money, guaranteeing him and his 27 children (an exaggeration, but not by much) generations of financial security. I then went and set up my own fund of funds and that upset him enough that he no longer talks to me. There’s more to the story, but suffice to say I made him $41 million and now he doesn’t speak to me.

I make you $3 million

Another friend was an investor in an Internet company in 1999. I introduced him to a public company that was doing a roll-up. The company ended up buying my friend’s company. He made about $3 million. I asked for a fee and he said “no.” “Welcome to the real world,” he said. That’s the last time I waited to ask for a fee on a deal.

I write a book (oh, and I make you money)

When I wrote my first book – the best-selling fiction roman a clef, “Trade Like a Hedge Fund,” the hedge fund manager I was trading for fired me. He didn’t like my book. He then wrote on his message board that I had cost him money. He had to recant when my associate told him we have copies of the checks he paid us for our performance fees.

I recommend a stock that you lose money on

This happens, albeit rarely. About a year and a half ago, for instance, I recommended the natural gas ETF, UNG. It has gone down pretty disastrously since then. I still get sarcastic emails thanking me. I rarely get emails thanking me for GNW (up 1,200%), CYCC, DNDN, ASTE,  BIDU, or Dendreon (DNDN). In fact, an unnamed biotech writer accused me of being paid by hedge funds to recommend  DNDN when it was at $5 (it’s now at about $37). Dozens of other stocks have done well since I wrote about them.

But it’s fair to hate me for your money loss. After all, I probably make most of your financial decisions for you and maybe even some of your relationship and family decisions (home schooling, for instance, or watch “Lost” vs. “24″).

I recommend a stock be sold or shorted

When I recommended a short on FSLR (then at $154, now at $112, despite the market making recent highs) there were these comments in the message boards:

“What an idiot AND yellow journalist.”

“ I look forward to pointing out in the future just how wrong you were about solar in general and FSLR in particular.”

“Who’s paying you this time?”

Again, I totally understand. If I were long a stock, and someone was recommending selling that stock, I might also hate them. I might accuse them of illegal activity or scream personal names at them. Why not? I have nothing better to do with my day then shout loudly on a message board.

I’m ugly

When I went on Yahoo’s Tech ticker to say that Obama’s bank proposal will be doomed (which, incidentally, it was) one astute commenter said, “Altucher is a clown who will say anything to get his horribly ugly mug on this show.”

Or when I went on CNBC once there was a Yahoo message board poster saying, “There was some homeless looking guy named James Altucher recommending stocks on CNBC today. Pretty cool of CNBC”

I probably should never go on videos or TV again but my kids like seeing me on them and so I try to go on as much as possible.

Some lessons I’ve learned from the people who hate me:

  • If you make people money, make sure you get a huge fee. This way it doesn’t matter if they hate you afterward since money buys happiness.
  • If you recommend a stock, try to make sure it goes up immediately. You have about 24 hours, or else people start hating you.
  • If you recommend shorting a stock, make sure you say loud and clear that no hedge funds are paying you and that you, personally, are not short the stock. They still won’t believe you but at least you said it up front.
  • Try not to be ugly if you go on TV. Or else maybe wear a mask. It’s OK if you are ugly if you follow rule No. 2 above.

Or as Warren Buffett has told me (and the other 28,000 people who showed up for Berkstock 2003 in Omaha): “The best way to be loved is to be lovable.”

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  • R Somers

    James,
    I do not hate you.
    I think you are one smart guy and I enjoy reading your analyses.
    All the best and Happy Hannukah.

  • M

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone. The more I think for myself, the more I weed my garden.

  • jPOTO

    I wouldn’t worry your not the ugliest analyst out there, Adam Furenstein is but your a close second. Enjoy your blogs. John

  • http://abetterwaytotradestocks.blogspot.com beanie

    If you remove your glasses and put on blue contact lenses, and have your hair done like Christopher Reeve’s, then there would be one less reason to hate you. But this looks makes you look infinitely more honest…and it’s good for doing business.

  • homie

    Isn’t that Victor’s technique to sell a company, or buy one?

  • barbacoa666

    I enjoy your columns, your wit, and common sense approach. For whatever reason, Americans now hate the sucessful, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

  • JEZ

    QUESTION: I bought UNG. And I am down big! However, I did not buy it on your recommendation… I bought it on my own. Now I see that you recommended it. Am I still allowed to hate you for it?

    Thanks.

    Jarrett

  • Jazzenjohn

    I bought one of the stocks you recommended, waited the requisite 24 hours, and it was still within pennies of what I bought it at. Disgusted, I sold it and felt compelled to hate you. Later, when I wasn’t looking, it went up, significantly. Now what do I do?

  • Mark

    Excellent blog

  • http://twitter.com/SabreToothTiggr Rhodri

    your not ugly, you have character :D

    First example, you made him 31 not 41 presuming his first offer didnt fall through .

    People hate success, either your competition or your trying too hard to be better then us

  • Pingback: Articles of the Week: The World Doesn't Need More Entrepreneurs: Not Everyone Can Be Bill Gates | Stocks on Wall Street()

  • http://Musicmatrix.com Jski

    Hey James, any microcap plays
    There’s a lot of noise about Enti.com

  • http://Musicmatrix.com Jshizzle

    Correction to my previous post.
    Enti.pk is the ticker symbol.
    The buzz is about Musicmatrix.com!

  • Thomas

    Why do you even bother reading negative posts about you. You have nothing to prove to people you dont know and will never meet. As long as you are true to yourself and your kids, who cares what others say?

  • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

    Thomas, thats a good point. I find that sometimes I care and sometimes I don’t. To be honest, I get insecure in a forum of my peers. Some of the people referred to above were/are peers or colleagues of some form or other. And sometimes the negative posts hit some buttons. But, in general, you are absolutely correct.

  • http://shadowstock.blogspot.com/ John

    James Altucher is hilarious. His pure contrarian genius will continue to make countless enemies. Love the work and please keep it up.
    Just twitted “Seven Reasons Not to Buy a Home”

    http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/credit/seven-reasons-not-to-buy-a-home/19597268/

    John

  • Steven Goff

    “I remember sitting in the room with him at the lawyer’s office when the cash got wired to him. His life changed that second.”

    I love that part…A great description of a life changing moment.
    He (at that moment) went from having “money” to having security and somewhat longer term “wealth”…..life changing to say the least.

  • http://n.a. B.K.

    James,
    Just read one of your articles (Significant new developments; SIGA vs. PIP lawsuit)for the first time yesterday. Today, I’m reading some of the messages. I’m impressed with your thoroughness of reporting (assuming all is correct). I’m also impressed with the patience you show in responding to some of your less than complimentary readers. I’ll definitely be following in the future. I hope you’re right with your predictions on PIP and SIGA stocks. I could use the boost. Thanks.

  • ColKurtz

    First time on your site, James. You’re a gifted writer… this post had me letting out belly laughs! (which I needed, thanks!)

  • http://HireHassan.com Hassan

    i have no i idea why but I just find this post humorous in nothing but a good way :)

  • http://HireHassan.com Hassan

    i have no i idea why but I just find this post humorous in nothing but a good way :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/vickykatral Vickram Katraal

    You write is more in words !! perhaps very learning 

  • Denis Elistratov

    FSLR is $36 now.
    Literally every Solar Stock sunk during 2010-2012.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30303728 Gerald Gjini

    James, I miss your financial posts. I loved “this is insane” blogs, i know you are trying to stir away from those but once in a while it would be nice to get your prespective. Thank you

  • Larry

    I found reading this years later amusing giving the current price of DNDN and FSLR. You couldnt have been more right ( at the time ) about DNDN and that FLSR short play would hvae been righteous all the way until the summer of 2012