"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 1 May 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Broke And Broker



A quick scan of the digital

industry press reveals a

perversion of the cyberporn

scare to which Dow Jones

plays the unlikely godfather:

column after column of stock

advice, ad after ad for

electronic trading sites -

everyone from Upside to WebSite

is offering fodder for fiscal

masturbation, encouraging their

readers to drop their pants and

hand over their wallets.


[Upside Rolodex]

A year ago, the business of

watching technology stocks drew

about as much attention as Pinky

and the Brain, but today, well,

we're expecting the IPO show to

debut on Fox any day now. And it

seems the few industry people

who haven't put their money

where their mouths are have simply

kept their traps flung wide

open - a horde of motley tools who

are more than happy to illuminate

the way a company moves its

backing from


capitalists to investment




For example, investment guru

Peter Lynch recommends that

newbie investors drop their

dimes on an industry they know

something about. But before you

make the leap from Web surfer to

Webtech stock buyer, remember

that a little knowledge could do

a lot more than crash your

browser - it could bring a whole

new meaning to the Great Web




Still, a misguided portion of the

general public sadly thinks they

understand what's going on, and,

more important to the growing

numbers of net.investment

advisors, they've been convinced

that portfolio fantasies are

entertaining, perhaps even



[The Red Herring]

But the only sure profits being

made in this exchange have to do

with the equation which seems to

guarantee (by our count) at

least four pages of electronic

trading ads for every one

page of stock-picking advice.

Not that any of these

columnists would be any less at

home picking their asses - c|net?

Netscape? Netcom? You'd live

higher on the hog by putting

your cash into pork bellies, and

you'd sleep more soundly with

your money stuffed in your



[One-armed Bandit]

But no matter - we've seen the

future and it's one where slot

machines have been replaced by

monitors. You don't have to pull

the arm, just click the mouse -

eTrade, e.Schwab, and many more

are delighted to help you and

your dollars bid each other a

fond farewell. After all, if you

love something, set it free...



"Executions are fast," an eTrade

ad entices, adding the appeal of

bloodlust to the already heady

mix, "Compare our low

commissions." And, taking a page

from ISPs, there's a three-color

price comparison chart and a

magic number: $14.95. (Low

commission must be better than

high, right?) $14.95 - a month?

A trade? Who cares? There's a

gravy train leaving from this

station and, with eTrade's help,

you'll be on it.



For the new traditionalist,

there's e.Schwab. While some might

scoff at the idea that adding a

character to a proper name could

lend digerati cred to a house

as stuffy and secondwave as

Schwab, we applaud their quick

thinking. Why, the name probably

came up only a few minutes after

they heard about "eTrade."



At this point, would-be investors

are shaking their heads and

wondering how they can get a

piece of the action. We've got a

few words of advice. First of

all, don't take a word of advice

from any clowns who talk about

Microsoft, Netscape, or most

importantly Yahoo in the same

sentence as the names Bill,

Marc, or Jerry. Believing that

Marc Andreessen has anything to

do with the day-to-day

operations at Netscape is

like believing that

Ronald McDonald personally cooks

your hamburger. Secondly, don't

invest in any net company that

doesn't have a lucrative

clothing franchise on the side.

Thirdly, if you suspect the

company in question is getting

comped cases of Olean, it's more

than likely that their supplier

is the one to take the money

and run.



Suck readers who use this

information for investment

decisions do so at their own


courtesy of Fred Herring