Skip to main content

Talk about the proverbial roller coaster. Results are in, and guess what? Even before the bubble deflated Thursday, plenty of folks lost money -- lots of money -- playing the Net stocks.

More than 1,500 readers responded to our


poll -- taken Thursday -- which asked simply "Who's up?" and "Who's down?" in the Net game so far. Nearly a quarter of our poll respondents said they had lost money chasing the highflying sector du jour. Of course, there were plenty of stories of how respondents made a solid start on the path to becoming a millionaire after they bought

(AMZN) - Get Inc. Report

for nothing and sold it for gazillions.

But it's the pain of losing that lasts almost forever.

We sifted through a pile of email and cherry-picked some examples that offer a window on the world of Net losers. If you're one of them, read on. It might help to know you're not alone. For those who prefer happy endings, we even threw in a few winners.

The Pain

I shorted at 140 after the split. Covered at 190. Ouch! Boy, do I feel stupid.

A. Curio

Started '98 with well-diversified (200K) portfolio of mutual funds, bonds, stocks. Decided to short AOL and YHOO. When they went up, shorted a little more. Finally hit margin limits and was down 50% when the smoke cleared in March.

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Mark Poyser

Last summer I shorted 1,000 shares (pre-recent split) of Amazon at 60 after careful analysis of the book industry and coming to the conclusion most "rational" value investors come to: That it was way overvalued ... and the stock looked like it had peaked and volume was drying up.

I placed the trade and went out to lunch, returning two hours later. I booted up my machine, and when I got my quotes almost passed out: The stock was up 10 points. Over the next two weeks, I saw the stock move up 2 to 3 points a day until I finally called it quits and covered at 115 for close to a $60K loss.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Never again!

Robert Jacobs

Last year (say late April), I was short K-Tel and had the mother-of-all drawdowns. I still wake up with the sweats now and again.

Andy Schroder

I put in my market order to buy MarketWatch when it was around 105. Ten minutes later, I got the confirm at 124.

Russel Lane

I placed a pre-open market order for Peapod in early December and left to play golf. (I know -- pretty dumb!) By the time my order was executed, the stock had risen from 8 to almost 13. I got in at around 12 1/2 -- however, the stock closed back at 8. It has never seen anything like 12 since. I finally sold the stock and took my well-deserved loss.

Bob Simonson

I learned my lesson at school for greedy fools. I thought about getting in early, so I placed my market order first thing in the morning with my margin account. On TV they said it was opening at 9 a share! I would have paid 60, my broker quoted me 50. Three hours later, I owned it at 90! I could not afford the number of shares I bought at that price, but nobody seemed to care. Then it began to fall sharply. It never went up while I owned it. I was lucky to get out about a half-hour after I bought it. I lost over a $1,000 (about 15% of my portfolio value at the time).

John Salverda

Bought 1,500 Amazon at 220 and put in a stop limit at 210, which it hit while I was working that day (210 was curiously the low for that day, which couldn't even be seen on the charts. Must have been forced down to snag my shares?). Two days later Amazon was trading at 300 per share.

Craig Mazeska

I live in Taiwan and should be going to sleep when NY opens. Bought Yahoo at 160, watched it go to 270, chickened out and sold at 250, then watched it go to 440. Stayed up late every night, watching the markets as if they were a baseball game. I learned I'm not as bold and adventurous as I thought. Then, guess what? I took the money and bought GE. GE! What a chicken I am!

Charlie Midgley

I bought 1,500 shares of Go2Net on Nov. 9 for 23 1/2. I sold those shares on Dec. 29 for 38, planning to buy them back later at a lower price.

Then I went on vacation the week of Jan. 4, and -- like an idiot -- I brought my laptop.

Came back to the hotel room Wednesday afternoon and hit up GNET ended the day up 6 1/2 at 45. Agony. What to do? Should I buy some shares on Thursday? I decided it was too late.

Came back to the hotel room Thursday night and hit GNET up another 10 points. More agony. Can't sleep at night. Replaying everything in my head over and over. Should I buy on Friday? No -- it's too late.

Came back to the hotel room on Friday. GNET ended the day up another 11. Now it's at 66. Agony all weekend. Why did I sell? Why did I sell? Over and over and over in my head. Why did I sell?

Go to work on Monday. GNET opens at 75. Should I buy? No, I can't. If I was late on Thursday and Friday, surely I'm too late now. Spend all day at work hitting up, like a rat begging for a pellet in a psych experiment. Feeling pain every time I look at the price of the stock I used to own.

Midday Monday: An analyst issues a buy on Go2Net. Target price of 125. Go2Net zooms to 120, up 54 points on the day! On Tuesday it reaches as high as 142 before settling in the 100 to 120 range.

I didn't lose any money ... I just lost the opportunity to make about $150,000 in one week. To me, it feels the same.

Richard Karpel

I bought Amazon at 13 and sold at 60, only to sit and watch day after day as the stock split and continued straight up. Don't tell me about the money I made! Every day the ticker reminds me of the money I left on the table.

Jim Granger

The Gain

I started day-trading in September '98, and I am "thrilled with the results." The good news: I've made more than $50 million in closed transactions in less than five months, with approximately $100 million in capital.

I'm a retired grandma who's been into buy-and-hold, large-cap investing for years. Now I love day-trading. I have two portfolios, one quite conservative and the other wildly aggressive day-trading. Happy trading!

Betty Brown

I got shares of MarketWatch at the offering price and sold it at 120, netting (love that word) 103 points. When I placed the sell order, my broker told me to expect execution of plus or minus 10 points, the widest range on a sell order in over 1,000 lifetime trades.

Steve Della Rocchetta