"If you Google my name with the word 'frog' my passion for these critters will be revealed."
Robert Stack, this year's winner (Bet: $175. Friday's close: $174.31), bought his first Apple shares at a split-adjusted $3.72.
While I wish I could point to some proprietary financial model that I devised based on brilliant analyses and insights, the simple truth is that I just got lucky. My winning pick of $175 was really an “educated guess”, though of course I've paid close attention to Apple for many years. It all started with my first computer: a Powerbook 5300c. That was followed by a Powerbook G3, and then my first iPod. I loved them all!
So while I regret not buying the stock earlier, I finally got the courage and in October 2008 I bought my first shares at a split-adjusted price of $3.72/sh. So I can’t really complain, esp since I purchased additional shares over the years in both my brokerage account and an IRA. Through many crazy years of sometimes wild price fluctuations, I held onto every one of those shares with the knowledge and fortitude I’d acquired reading the many brilliant pieces that Horace Dediu would post on his asymco blog. So Horace, If you’re reading this: Thank You - I owe you a beer!
This may be hard for some 3.0 readers to believe, but my current computer is a 2015 MacBook Air - primarily because of MagSafe. Plus it still does everything I need it to do, and the original battery still gets me through an entire day. I’m hoping the new MBAs coming out this Fall with the M2 chip will have MagSafe, as that’s when I plan to upgrade: I’ll either get a new Air or MB Pro. BTW, I finally “recycled” my original 5300c, my G3, and my 2nd gen iPod to an Apple store almost exactly a year ago - all were still in working order and it was quite a scene as both “Geniuses” and Salepeople came over to marvel at my working “antiques.”
Not to sound like the Oscars here, but I also want to acknowledge my Mom as I learned about investing in my early teens under her astute tutelage. She was the financially literate one in our family, and despite our blue collar status, always believed in carving out something for saving and investment. She avidly read the WSJ daily, and had subscriptions to “Changing Times” and “Value Line”. This latter firm used to send out these detailed reports every week on rotating sectors of the economy that contained rankings of individual companies. These reports were printed out on cheap newsprint and came pre-punched to fit into these blue three ring binders. My Mom was always excited on “Value Line” day, and being an impressionable youngster, I wanted to learn more about my Mom’s passions. So Thanks Mom! [Full Disclosure: As some of you will no doubt suspect, our family also had a subscription to the NYT - while I recognize her decline, the Old Grey Lady is still a good friend. 🙂 ]
OK, so Philip said I should also tell you a little bit about myself. I’ve had a very non-linear career. On graduating from college in 1976, I had a very big decision to make: science or the music business. I’d been the Vice Chair of the concert committee at Rutgers U, and had the experience of putting on concerts by major recording artists like Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, The Kinks, Harry Chapin and many others. I even helped Bruce Springsteen “crash” a Billy Joel concert at Rutgers one time, which created a joint encore performance that lasted until 2AM. Anyway, we worked with John Scher, the major concert promoter in NYC at the time, and when I graduated he asked me if I had any interest in working for his firm. It was flattering as well as tempting, but to be honest I didn’t think I’d live very long or healthfully if I made that choice. So I decided to go to grad school at UC Davis and get an advanced degree in Biochemistry.
So my first job after my PhD and postdoc was as a research scientist with the USDA in Peoria IL, where I stayed five years before returning to the west coast in 1989 to take a job at a start-up biopharmaceutical firm in Alameda, CA. It seemed like all my friends were involved in start-ups at the time; ours was on a roll for a while but our stock crashed after a disappointing clinical trial. So the VC backing the company felt that the best option was to sellout for not much more than the remaining cash we had in the bank. It was hugely disappointing to say the least! Over many intervening years, I consulted for several major Bay Area biotech firms and was involved in two more start-ups: one as a founding member; in both I served as a VP. My "last hurrah” was recently acquired by a major scientific instrumentation company, though the financial premium was nothing to write home about. I always tried to keep my biochemistry balanced with the strong interest I also have in amphibian conservation, and if you Google my name with the word “frog” my passion for these critters will be revealed.
In 2006, with my Mom’s health on the decline, I wanted to return east. So I took a job managing a research grants program with an agency of the federal govt. Over the next 13 years, I refocused the program to better understand the chemistry and physics of energy capture, conversion, and storage reactions in biological systems. It was the most rewarding job I ever had; one of many highlights was attending a Nobel Prize reception for one of my grantees (a Stanford prof!) at the Swedish embassy in DC. (I had to buy a new suit for that one!) My federal colleagues were some of the best and brightest I've ever worked worked with, and they put in long hours. As a taxpayer it was gratifying to see that at least some parts of the federal govt still work. The one major downside of this wonderful job was my constant travel back and forth to the Bay Area, as I’d left my heart in San Francisco (actually, Oakland, but poetic license).
When covid first hit in March 2020, I simply stayed in the Bay Area teleworking but knew that at some point I’d be called back to the DC area. So I retired in January 2021 and married my long-term partner, feeling financially secure thanks to Apple. I do receive a modest federal pension, but its not enough to live on. I’m not sure what’s next for me, as I have no intention of sitting around in a rocking chair. Right now I’m exploring options, and in the meantime, I’ve been donating some of my appreciated AAPL stock to my Fidelity Charitable acct in order to support the causes that most resonate with me. As Steve said, “Stay hungry, stay foolish!"
My take: Lovely story, nicely told. Thank you for sharing it.