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Running Money: Hedge Fund Honchos, Monster Markets and My Hunt for the Big Score Paperback – Bargain Price, September 20, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kessler has toned down the namedropping that permeated last year’s Wall Street Meat, and his less-than-appreciative stance towards much of the rest of the finance industry is also somewhat altered for this second memoir, in which he leaves the institutional investment world behind to co-manage a hedge fund. Loosely connected episodes trace his attempts to attract investors and raise the $100 million he needs to be taken seriously, despite not having much of a game plan to start. Then a series of conversations with the mysterious "Mr. Zed" lead Kessler to study the Industrial Revolution and the origins of networked computing as role models for the type of transformative market development a savvy investor needs. These historical digressions are infused with a personal tone, but one that adopts an amiable key. Ultimately, Kessler decides the next big thing probably lies in "high margin" areas like intellectual property that can be sold for much more than they cost to create. According to his admittedly "counterintuitive" scenario, American investment in foreign products will develop their economies so they can invest in our intellectual property and the companies that make it, generating wealth all around. This new level of seriousness could attract readers who value potentially beneficial economic speculation over easy digs at industry players, while those who admired Kessler’s in-your-face attitude the first time around will still find plenty to appreciate here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Not just a macho rehash of the glory days, his lessons prove that a little skepticism goes a long way.” (Wired )

“[One of ] the best books you’ll find on technology, opportunity and entrepreneurship [to] hit bookstores.” (Rich Karlgaard, Forbes )

“Right place, right time, right questions. That’s the formula in this smart - and smart-ass - take on investing.” (Wired )

“Andy Kessler’s entertaining memoir will become required reading in the financial community.” (Financial Times )

“One can just hear Wall Street denizens asking each other if they have read Running Money yet.” (Financial Times )

“One of the best books of 2004” (Barron's )
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (September 20, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060740655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060740658
  • ASIN: B000GG4ZJK
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,929,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Jackson on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Running Money, Andy Kessler's new book, is a big disappointment. His first book, Wall Street Meat, was a witty, intelligent and perceptive description of his life as a sell-side analyst. But Running Money, which covers his time co-managing a technology hedge fund from 1996 to 2001, is a let-down. There are three reasons why this book misses the mark:

First, Running Money won't give you any insights into running a hedge fund. Kessler actually ran a sort of hybrid VC fund and mutual fund. He never shorted stocks or used any other hedging mechanism, and his fund was 100% net long at all times. This doesn't mean Kessler was stupid. On the contrary, 1996 to 2000 was a period when you wanted to be 100% net long technology stocks (ideally with leverage...), and when the tech bubble burst in 2001 Kessler was smart enough to liquidate his fund. But don't look for insights into shorting stocks or managing net exposure.

Second, the core discussion about investment strategy is superficial. Kessler outlines his methodology: find companies with large markets, sustainable competitive advantage and lucrative business models. But there's no rigorous analysis of how that methodology really performed, since we don't know whether he outperformed his VC peers (he also invested in private deals) or the semiconductor and hardware indexes (those are where most of his investments seem to have been) on an after-fees, after-tax basis. There's no discussion about whether his methodology is approriate for today's market conditions. There's no discussion of valuation. There's no discussion of portfolio construction or risk management. And there's no analysis of the mistakes he made either.
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Format: Hardcover
"Running Money" is not only a great read, it also provides a unique contemporaneous view of the `90s investment market by a talented hedge fund manager who makes no claims to omniscience. He brings us into his struggles, doubts, and mistakes as well as his successes. He shows us how hard it really is to find great investments even in a wild bull market. This is a very different book than "Wall Street Meat". It isn't as wry but I think it offers us more substance along with a lot of fun. However, the fun comes from more sources than just humor.

The book weaves three threads into the final fabric. First, there is the hedge fund narrative. The author provides us with many fun stories about his difficulties in raising money for their fund, the troubles in finding the right investments, and the natural history of his and his partner's successes and failures with the market and private investments.

Among other many things, we learn that the real action at conferences is out in the hall, that it is time to leave when CFOs close the doors to their offices or conference rooms or when the sales executive is the power guy, and the travails of getting an Instinet terminal in your office so you don't have to pay a broker to do the same thing for you. We get to ride with them in their four-door office as the go to meeting after conference after meeting looking for the right investment. Usually they find things to laugh at, run from, or that are jaw droppingly dumb. However, every now and again they find things to buy. Even then, many of them are dogs. But the ones that take off end up paying for everything including their cheap office above an arts supply store.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Running Money" picks up where Andy Kessler's previous book, "Wall Street Meat" (which portrays his life as a Wall Street-based semiconductor industry stock analyst and investment banker), left off. Kessler left Wall Street to run a Palo Alto-based hedge fund with one partner, raising money from wealthy individuals and groups, and investing it in latter-stage startup and public technology companies. He had the, in retrospect, incredibly fortuitous timing (as he himself admits) to open a five year fund in 1996, which forced him to liquidate the fund and lock in his profits as the tech bubble was bursting in 2001 (in fact, he disperses his last cash just days before 9/11).

But Kessler's success, as he proves in the highly entertaining and also thought provoking "Running Money", is not merely the product of providential timing. His insider's view of the hedge fund industry shows how many of these funds don't even attempt to do fundamental stock analysis, but instead seek out market distortions that they can profit from (for a while, at least). Kessler, by contrast, stays true to his stock analyst roots and attempts to find great companies possessing a strong economic and technological advantage in a market about to undergo rapid growth. He struggles initially, but eventually uses an interesting combination of old world thinking (by analyzing the history of the steam power-driven Industrial Revolution) and radical new era economics (described below) to identify some winners. His story of the small niche semiconductor company he found which benefited immensely from the MP3 music piracy fad, at the same time that Napster and the record companies were losing their shirts, is a great case study for technology investing.
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