Ah, the joys of running a technology mutual fund in the late 1990s! Not only did your stocks go up almost every day (and when they didn't you doubled up on the dips and made even more money), but you got the pick of the
IPOs! The virtuous circle of running a tech fund probably never dawned on you if you weren't in the thick of things yourself. I saw it at
, and it always made me extremely jealous of the whole tech mutual fund process.
First, you traded up a storm in the already-issued stocks. You bid your favorites up every day because, well, heck, isn't that what you were supposed to do with the money? (I used to write about these kinds of events with
Buzz and Batch
, but their firm blew up last year and I can't bring myself to pay attention to them anymore.) Your bountiful commissions guaranteed you hefty allocations in the hottest deals, which were all technology. You could flip them at your leisure to make huge bucks or, periodically, you could adopt one and just buy the whole limited float out and keep it up in the air with the money that came over the transom.You were basically coining money for your shareholders. It was a beautiful thing.
Now, though, tech fund managers are losing money hand over fist for their shareholders. They are seeing redemptions every day. They don't even get on television much anymore and when they do, they are made fun of! The gall of those guys on TV; let them go run money and see how hard it is! And there are no underwritings. Or at least not ones that these managers can participate in. Take this week. On one hand,
will probably be hot because restaurants are making money here. On the other hand, you've got
, that Andreesen thing that seems like a throwback to the good old times. But I had my breath taken away this weekend when I read the director of research at
was actually dissing the deal. (Hey, Ken Pearlman, director of research at Firsthand, that's not going to help you get those juicy allocations when things heat up, and I sure as heck hope that the underwriters notice your slam of Loudcloud. That wasn't cricket! Did you clear that one with
Kevin Landis first?) No chicken for Firsthand!
Without the deals (which were such a high percentage of so many of these funds' performances, especially in their initial launch phase), and without the sector's once-hot area to pile into -- there is not a single area that is hot now -- what are these funds to do?
My prediction: As their stocks go down in value they morph themselves into mid-cap funds, one of the hotter areas, and lose the "tech" name. Would it shock you?
James J. Cramer is a director and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He contributes daily market commentary for TheStreet.com's sites and serves as an adviser to the company's CEO. Outside contributing columnists for TheStreet.com and RealMoney.com, including Cramer, may, from time to time, write about stocks in which they have a position. In such cases, appropriate disclosure is made. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to send comments on his column to