The ad we’re looking at today starts out with all sorts of braggadocio about how Jeff Brown at Bonner & Partners is “arrogant” or “pompous” and “egocentric” and “in your face,” and in general just not a very nice guy… the headline is “America’s Most Arrogant Investor.”
That’s all malarkey — I don’t care whether or not he’s a prickly dude, but it’s irrelevant, that’s all done in service of the marketing. In this case, marketing Jeff Brown as an iconoclast who can see the future of technology and make bold bets that other people won’t, and the cost of joining him and reading his research is a $4,000 subscription to Exponential Tech Investor (nonrefundable, of course, since if you don’t like it or believe you were sold something different than they delivered it could only be because, in Brown’s words, “you turn out to have terrible judgment.”)
I’ll get down to business and ID the stock he’s focused on in a moment, but let me riff on that “refund” bit quickly first. As with many other high-cost newsletters, the idea of refunding money must be terrifying to publishers, but they also know that offering a “guarantee” is important in getting people over that hurdle to type in their credit card number — so they offer the “iron-clad performance guarantee” that, in this case, if you don’t get 1,000% returns from at least five of his recommendations, they’ll add an extra year to the membership for free (if you call in to complain).
Which, speaking as a publisher of sorts myself, is pretty much the ideal guarantee — if you’re grouchy enough to call them, which is a hassle, then you weren’t going to renew anyway, so it’s a promise that costs them nothing. The good ol’ “If you don’t like it, we’ll give you more, free!” guarantee… ideal for those who complain about the food being too terrible to eat and the portions being too small.
So is this Jeff Brown really “America’s Most Arrogant Investor?” Probably not, not that it matters. There’s a myth that people like to perpetuate of the lone investor, the man who stands by himself like a grouchy cowboy (it’s pretty much always a man — there’s never a line for the women’s room at an investment conference), and who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks and just wins by sheer orneriness… but when you hear newsletter pundits described that way, it’s pretty much just “brand building” on their part. You have to be a character and convince people that you’re different and cantankerous and don’t run with the herd if you want to get the attention of us little investors. We all dream of riding with the stubble-faced cowboys who have dirty spurs and fire drunkenly at bandits, not passing canapes with the investment advisors with french cuffs and pinstripes who want to charge you 1.5% for an index fund (and, of course, the actual conservative choice of buying cheap index funds and closing your eyes is just too boring).
Boring people who pick middle of the road investments or admit to their failings don’t get invited on CNBC or sell lots of newsletters, that’s reserved for the folks who “think different” or pick fights and tell you that they can see the future and pick the perfect technology stocks… or, on the other side, who tell you that they know when the world is going to come to an end (and take advantage of the fact that memories are short, so they can keep telling you the same thing with new dates every few months, eventually being proven “right”).
Brown is being sold on the bullish side of that spectrum — a tech soothsayer, not a prophet of doom. He runs through a long list of companies on which he claims huge returns — one of them, NVIDIA (NVDA), was a verified pick of his a few years ago and he re-touted it a couple times, with good performance, as was AMD (AMD), but most of the others he cites as huge winners are private companies… Coinbase, Abra, Grabango, SkySafe, Via, Moltin. Many of them are cryptocurrency tagalong companies, offering a wallet or trading platform or similar blockchain-related product.
Yes, I expect he has participated in financing these companies… but claiming returns based on your own estimates of the value of a private company is a little iffy. If there’s no public and liquid market, you don’t really find out what something is worth until you have to sell it. So yes, I’m sure he has probably made some good money on private investments, but I wouldn’t take his claim that “I’ve won on 95.3% of my 111 investments” as being particularly meaningful, generally money invested in those kinds of companies is locked up for a few years and illiquid and a good number of them end up withering away to nothing.
Among the teaser stocks he has promoted over the past few years in selling his newsletters, he’s probably doing a little better than average — though he hasn’t been in the business very long, he launched his first newsletter in 2015 and both his biggest winner (Square) and his biggest losers (EDIT and NTLA) on the tracking spreadsheets were picked in early 2016.
So before we get to the 5G stock he’s touting, what is it this “Arrogant” Jeff Brown is looking for?
He lists a few of his iconoclastic rules that he says make him stand out:
“BROWN’S RULE always requires a disruptive product… because that means the company behind it will enjoy a massive competitive advantage, crushing its competitors and making early investors like me rich.
“Rule #1: I don’t buy and hold for the long haul. Rather, I speculate in explosive, breakthrough opportunities that can deliver huge, accelerated gains over a relatively short period of time….
“Rule #2: I only look for small businesses to speculate in.
“Rule #3: You should look for exponential growth.”
Umm, OK. “Small and disruptive!” Got it.
And then we get into this April 25 stuff…
“… there’s a secret to how I find these opportunities…
“And right now, it’s pointing to a critical event that’s happening on April 25th that only a complete idiot would ignore.”
So what’s the ad about this time around? 5G, again.
“… it will soon give wireless devices access to incredible bandwidth and speed.
“Enough speed to suddenly unleash some of the most explosive technologies on the planet. It will make investors who know about BROWN’S RULE potentially a fortune beginning this year.”Are you getting our free Daily Update
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