The Old Guard's Window of Opportunity

They might have missed their chance to profit from their .coms. Early on, they didn't believe.
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A few years ago, before the explosion of the Amazons (AMZN) - Get Report and the eBays (EBAY) - Get Report, The Old Guard (henceforth, TOG, as I am trying to get away from that cloddy, stupid bricks-and-mortar phrase) didn't believe. They thought these companies were phony.

They may have been right about the business models, for all I know. Amazon doesn't have any plans to make money that I can see. But TOG totally misjudged the stock market. They figured that the Bezoses and the Whitmans would never get money from banks and that they would simply run out of money in the interim. It was that crucial misjudgment about the stock market that will go down as the reason why these Amazons weren't thrown back into the sea when they stormed the beaches. That's what allowed the beachhead to get started.

Now, TOG.com is talking the talk like never before. They are lining up bankers and getting tracking stocks and inventing .com stubs. Oh boy, they have some dandy merchandise cooked up to get you to buy -- and to

stop

others from getting more money to help revolutionize the Net. It is all part of this TOG comeback plan to stop the true Net pioneers.

Hey, maybe they are on to something. Maybe they are just a little later than everybody else. Maybe the stock market's IPO window will stay open eternally and allow TOG plenty of time to get their .coms off the ground and financially secure.

Somehow, I don't think so. I think that, like their initial lack of belief in online, which turned out to be much bigger than they thought, TOG has misjudged the market's appetite for pseudo.coms from them. I bet when they get to the window, it might be closed, angrily nailed shut by people who want real .coms only.

Call me conflicted; I love it. Just don't call me late for the window.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long eBay. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at

letters@thestreet.com.