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Angel Investing

            Mark Twain said it best: "History doesn't repeat itself; it rhymes.
             I can remember when I was a lad and my grandfather, the original Dean Witter, would regale me with stories of "way back when- in the stock market. One of my favorites was that at night, two men in green eyeshades would post all the firm's orders by hand across a table from each other in the back office,.
             each posting half the trades and then the other double-checking the work. Stock price quotes were not 15-minute delayed (let alone realtime), but worked off of the price printed in the previous afternoon's San Francisco Examiner!.
             Were he alive today, granddad would be celebrating his 113th birthday. He died in 1969, the year after the NYSE daily volume topped 20 million shares for the first time, and he had been dead three years when the Dow Jones Industrial Average first broke the 1,000 level. He lived in an age when you personally knew the people who ran the companies you invested in. People would buy into a business and management team they were familiar with and understood, not just invest their money blindly to turn it around in a trice.
             In the late "60's, mutual funds started to proliferate. Then, people were investing in a Fund Manager and his record of success owning many different stocks about which the fund investor knew little, if anything at all. The "Nifty Fifty", tax shelters, arcane limited partnerships, and ultimately "momentum investing" and day trading came next.
             This intermediate period was marked by a certain passivity in public and private investing. If a private "Angel" investor became an active investor, learning about and participating with management, it was almost certainly a sign that something had gone seriously amiss with the investment. But, the more things change the more they stay the same, I feel. We have come full circle, with the new Angel investors being active before the fact, not only after the fact - an important distinction.

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