#NupToTheCup and my annual protest against the state-sponsored animal cruelty and gambling addiction which is the race that stops the nation.
It’s been a big year for the Australian horse racing industry, and not the good kind of big.
- The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses published the shameful statistic that 122 racehorses died at the race track in the previous year in Australia, an average of one every three days;
- 7.30 Report screened a harrowing special report on endemic cruelty and inhumane treatment of horses too old, or injured or too bad at running fast;
- First Dog On the Moon is just one of the many fine cartoonists making an annual call for change;
- The Victorian horse racing organisation VRC felt pressured enough to announce they’d take a meaninglessly small amount of the profits from the race and spend it on “VRC Equine Wellbeing Fund for the care of racehorses” (which sounds rather more like “helping minimise the effects of how we mistreat racehorses” than “let’s take better care of the horses that manage to survive long enough to retire”).
- I don’t know who Lana Condor is but I’ve heard of Taylor Swift and Megan Gale, and all three decided to shake off the Melbourne Cup this year. Replacement singer Cosmo Callea (never heard of him either… oh wait, he’s the Australian Idol singer from years ago?) announced he’d donate his appearance fee to a race horse protection charity; and
As if all this weren’t enough, I continued my long held tradition of being un-Australian and rational enough to not give someone else in my office sweep my hard-earned $10 or the bookie my hard-earned $50 by instead investing a little more in a listed tech stock.
Why do I do that each year?
Because all investment is gambling and all gambling is investment, it’s just a question of odds, market transparency and when you buy/sell. But investing in the barbarous exploitation of tech industry workers does at least come with the conscious consent of the tech workers, whereas the barbarous exploitation of racehorses isn’t really something the horses can consent to.
A horse race lasts a few minutes and then you’re either down, or you’re up. A stock exchange lets me hold a stock for decades and pick my own time to sell what I’ve bought.
How am I tracking?
I’m not doing too bad! The biggest return to date was from the first time I bet against the Melbourne Cup, in 2010, with the purchase of some Apple shares at USD74.90. I distinctly remember complaining that they were so expensive at the time but now they’re at USD257.50 I’m happier!
In November 2015 I purchased some Tesla Motors stock for USD202.49, which has been up and down since 2015 but I have held on and today it closed at USD317.47.
In November 2016 I bought some NVIDIA (makers of the high-performance GPU chips powering much of tomorrow’s AI and autonomous tech) for USD69.00 and it was trading at about USD105.00 when in January 2018 a friend at the wheel of my car had an accident, and I decided to sell those shares to cover the cost of a replacement second-hand car. Gains realised, friendship salvaged. So since I’ve sold them, let’s subtract that from the portfolio.
In November 2017 I was a bit busy I guess, as didn’t buy anything.
In November 2018, even though I was late to the party I bought some Atlassian stock at USD63.02 and that’s now at USD118.37. I also bought Spotify at USD144 (now USD154.15) and Netflix at USD328 (now my only loss, at USD292.86).
Ignoring from the moment the dividends from the Apple shares, the brokerage fees and the taxes I sometimes end up paying because I’ve forgotten to file my W-8 yet again and selling some shares to buy a second-hand car, I’m up just a little over 200% across the portfolio.
So what shares to buy this year? Well, 1414 Degrees is a rather interesting Aussie renewable energy storage startup I saw pitch at this year’s Tech23. They have some interesting IP. But they’re listed on the ASX, which has a history of terrible performance with tech startups, so I’m uncertain about that decision for now. Maybe next year.
[updated] This year I’ve gone with Microsoft (MSFT) which is on a strong run this year. I bought four shares at USD144.15.[end update].
Is gambling/investing in tech stocks the same as gambling on the largely random outcome of selectively breeding, training, brutalising and killing horses? No, it’s not (very few horses die in a year of NASDAQ trading).
Next first-Tuesday-in-November, I encourage you to join me in buying some tech stocks instead of betting on the Melbourne Cup.