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The fund world's no-load and tech revolutions each were dealt another blow Monday, thanks to the



A onetime chart-topper, the


Firsthand Technology Value fund, run by


darling Kevin Landis and traditionally sold directly to investors, plans to start selling its fund through financial planners early next year, according to paperwork filed with regulators Monday.

Meanwhile, a Monday filing from the tiny and young

Marketocracy ChangeWave

fund discloses its plans to liquidate. As we've noted in recent weeks, thanks to an abundance of tech funds and a dearth of investor interest, fund companies'

migration into the steadier adviser channel and

out of the tech-fund game altogether is likely to continue.

In 1995, there were some 20 tech funds out there, but thanks to 1999's heady gains and last year's record inflows that number now stands at more than 150. Unfortunately, most were launched just as tech stocks peaked last year, so they are sporting big losses -- the average tech fund is down more than 40% over the past 12 months, according to Chicago fund tracker Morningstar.

Thanks to those losses, redemptions from the tech-fund category have outpaced investments by more than $5 billion so far this year. To combat flagging flows, some funds are launching share classes that carry fees to pay advisers. Most fund shares are sold through the adviser channel, according to Financial Research, and many people believe investors who work with advisers are less likely to jump ship in tough times. Firsthand is the latest no-load firm to make the leap, just a week after no-load titan Invesco Funds pledged to sell through traditional brokers starting in March.

The Firsthand Tech Value fund will launch an adviser share class in roughly two months, according to its filing. The new share class carries an annual 12b-1 or marketing fee equal to 0.25% of your investment. The fee is designed to pay a fee-based financial planner for his or her advice.

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The fund wasn't cheap and it isn't getting cheaper. Its direct-sold shares carry a 1.83% annual expense ratio, higher than the category's 1.76% average. The new share class will be even more expensive, capped at 1.95% when it starts out. Even if the share class gathers $1 billion in assets, its fees will still be 1.80%, according to its filing. That adds up to $180 on a $10,000 account.

Prior to the tech sector's peak last March, the fund topped all comers over the previous five years. Run by Landis, an industry veteran with the idea that someone with "firsthand" experience in Silicon Valley could dig up tech winners, the fund was a star and rose 190% in 1999. Launched in 1994, its assets rose from $35 million in 1996 to more than $4.6 billion by the end of last year.

But it has fallen with its peers since then and its assets stand at about $1 billion today. The fund's 45% fall since Jan. 1 trails its average peer. Over the past five years, however, its 13.5% annualized gain still beats the S&P 500 by more than 3 percentage points and tops 80% of its competitors.

Launched at the end of 1999, the Marketocracy ChangeWave fund hasn't fallen as hard as its peers, but its $4 million in assets is far below the $80 million to $100 million needed for most funds to break even. The fund was run by Tobin Smith, who focused on stocks of companies positioned to benefit from growing access to the Internet. Last year, Smith published

ChangeWave Investing: Picking the Next Monster Stocks for the New Economy


Apparently, one of those stocks is the top holding, tobacco titan

Philip Morris

(MO) - Get Altria Group Inc Report

. Other picks include

US Physical Therapy

(USPH) - Get U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc. Report

and credit research house


(MCO) - Get Moody's Corporation (MCO) Report

. The direct-sold fund's 24% fall so far this year beat 88% of its competitors, but it still failed to find an audience. Investors will be cashed out on Dec. 20 if they don't redeem their shares between now and then.

In an odd twist, Marketocracy chief and health fund manager Ken Kam founded Firsthand with Landis. Back then they were symbols of the coming tech boom, but today they illustrate the mercurial sector's recent bust.

Ian McDonald writes daily for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He invites you to send your feedback to, but he cannot give specific financial advice.