Henry Blodget: Making new highs

March 19, 2017 11:00 AM
Henry Blodget and Business Insider

Henry Blodget and Business Insider

What are you reading now? Twitter. 

What are your essential books on the markets? “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,” by Edwin LeFevre; “A Short History of Financial Euphoria,” by John Kenneth Galbraith; “Liar’s Poker,” by Michael Lewis; “Irrational Exuberance,” by Robert Shiller and “Common Sense on Mutual Funds,” by John Bogle.

Your exit from the head of the global Internet research team at Merrill Lynch during the dot.com era culminated with a market crash, payment of a $4 million fine, a large loss in your own portfolio and a lifetime ban from the securities industry. Your subsequent foray into publishing was initially derided by critics. Last year you sold Business Insider (BI) with the company valued at $442 million. It is one hell of a comeback story. What is the life lesson? Sometimes life knocks you on your ass. But with hard work, help and luck, you can get back up.

Since inception, your role at BI has been editor-in-chief. What influence did you have on BI’s approach to financial news? Our big insight was to tell people what they wanted to know. We focus on serving our audience and clients. We try to get better every day. 

Your headlines attract readers to your stories. What is the impact of an effective headline in terms of reader metrics? People hate clickbait. Our goal is to tell stories people love. When we succeed, people share them like crazy. 

Does the media have a liberal bias? Some media outlets do. And some have a conservative bias. Many others couldn’t care less about politics.

Does BI have a liberal bias? No. We believe that companies should strive to create value for customers, employees and society, in addition to shareholders. It’s a philosophy that some consider leftish. But we don’t root for either political team.

Did the media let Donald Trump off the hook vis-à-vis conflicts by not taking him serious early on? I think the media did a great job covering Donald Trump. The truth about him was everywhere.  

Why did Hillary Clinton lose? Inequality. For the past several decades, our country has increasingly favored owners over employees. The latter voted for change.

What is your advice for President Trump? Preserve, uphold and defend the Constitution.

Your thoughts on the new administration’s intent to relax provisions of Dodd-Frank? Hopefully they won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

What is the best investment that you have ever made? Business Insider. 

The worst investment? A pre-IPO technology fund that launched in — you guessed it — 1999. 

Will active investing regain its footing in the near future? Active investing will always be a fun, challenging and rewarding career path. But taxable investors are almost always better off in index funds. 

Out of thousands of Wall Street analysts’ recommendations tracked by market data provider FactSet for S&P 500 companies, only about 6% are sell or “underweight” ratings. What should investors who rely upon these ratings know? Ratings aren’t investment advice. They also aren’t calls to action. A “buy” for one investor is always a “sell” for another. 

What’s wrong with cable broadcast financial media today? Nothing! We have multiple networks on all day in the newsroom, and they’re often informative and entertaining.

You were a nationally-ranked, father-son team doubles tennis player and taught private lessons before your Wall Street career. Which (active) pro player do respect most. Why? Rafael Nadal. He’s not blessed with the otherworldly talent of Roger Federer. He is where he is because of his determination, work ethic and grit. He’s also a class act.
Favorite musical artists, living and dead? Nanci Griffith.

Who is your business hero? Jeff Bezos. (Focus on customers. Don’t be afraid to experiment and fail. Invest for the long-haul).

What’s your forecast for the stock market in 2017? I’ve been cautious and wrong for years.  

Well, do you see any bubbles? I think that both stocks and bonds are extremely expensive and that long-term returns will be lousy.

About the Author

Jeff Joseph is the CEO of The Alpha Pages, the parent company of Modern Trader magazine.
E-mail him at jj@alphapages.com or find him on Twitter @alphapagesceo and @venturepopulist.