The MFWire
Manage Email Alerts | Sponsorships | About MFWire | Who We Are

Subscribe to MFWire.com's News Alerts [click]

Rating:Valley Tech Fund Seeks Risk Takers Not Rated 3.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Tuesday, April 06, 1999

Valley Tech Fund Seeks Risk Takers

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

The boom in the financial services industry is making it tough and expensive to find good experienced analysts and portfolio managers. The boom in technology is making it tough to find good experienced engineers. Now try to find someone good at both.

That is the problem being faced by FirstHand Funds as it grows up. Still run by the the team of Kevin Landis and Ken Kam (the company started in Landis' house about five years ago) and two additional partners (a marketer and a CFO) the company now manages four funds and have $255 million under management.

Landis sees burgeoning growth in technology that FirstHand Funds is positioned to take advantage of. One way the company wants to do this is by expanding the number of offerings in its family. Funds that the company is considering, Steven Witt, partner and the head of marketing told the MutualFundWire.com., include: an Internet fund, a telecomm/wireless fund, and a biotech fund.

The new funds tie into the issue of finding people who are good at both technology and investing to act as analysts and portfolio managers for the new products. FirstHand Funds is different than most other fund companies in that it believes in investing in areas in which it is an expert on the technology as well as the business (thus, the name). Sticking close to its expertise is the key differentiator for the company, Landis claims.

The company's logo -- a picture of two street signs -- one says "Silicon Valley", the other says "Wall Street" -- captures this philosophy. Unfortunately, Wall Street and Silicon Valley do not usually mix.

The typical candidates brought by headhunters are stock pickers, but they do not usually know the technology first hand, says Witt. If forced to choose, Landis would rather take someone with the knowledge of technology and only a passion for, but no professional experience in, investing.

There are "enough brilliant, left brain on steroids, people out there" that Landis is willing to make this trade-off, he explained. He adds that someone "who doesn't know the technology isn't eligible" for the job.

Once the people are found -- and Witt says that they are looking for four to six analysts -- Landis believes that they will find a market for the funds.

In the past, FirstHand has been one of the leaders in using the media's new fascination with all things mutual funds to market itself and spread its story. Even today Landis put in an appearance on CNBC. The company also keeps a WebPage detailing which media outlets have covered its story.

The attention means that the company is now being watched by major brokers, says Witt. The company's oldest fund -- Technology Value -- is also coming up on its fifth birthday, an anniversary that Witt expects to open new doors on the marketing end as he will be able to disseminate some "blistering" return numbers.

Currently, all four funds in the family are pure no-load and offer one share class. Yet, Landis says that FirstHand is not wedded to the no-load model and is open to innovations to find ways to compensate broker and advisory channels to distribute its funds.

"We are no-load, but we don't want to say no," Landis admits.

Witt points to the fact that both Dean & DeLuca and Safeway are successful selling the same commodity: food.

No doubt they will find a way. Witt shared a story of the difficulty FirstHand had in getting onto the shelves of the Schwab OneSource supermarket. Even then, the fund had a blistering track record. But its small asset base (at the time it was $10 million in assets) gave Schwab doubts about letting it in the club.

"We had contracts signed, and everything," Witt told the MutualFundWire.com. Then at the last minute Schwab backed down with what must be a unique explanation: the fund was fine but the managers didn't have a five year track record in the business, so sorry, no go.

Today, FirstHand's funds are in Schwab, bet on them to find an innovative way into the broader institutional channel.  

Stay ahead of the news ... Sign up for our email alerts now

 Do You Recommend This Story?

Return to Top
 News Archives
2021: Q2Q1
2020: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2019: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2018: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2017: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2016: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2015: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2014: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2013: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2012: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2011: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2010: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2009: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2008: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2007: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2006: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2005: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2004: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2003: Q4Q3Q2Q1
2002: Q4Q3Q2Q1
 Subscribe via RSS:
Add to My Yahoo!
follow us in feedly

  1. ETF.com Awards 2020, April 20
  2. The 31st Sub-Advised Funds Forum, Apr 20-21
  3. IDC Virtual Roundtable: Florida - April 2021, April 20
  4. IMEA Marketing Council Roundtable | Engaging Advisors In a Virtual World, April 21
  5. MMI Summit 2021, Apr 21-22
  6. MFDF Director Discussion Series - Open Forum via Zoom (Northeast), April 21
  7. FIASI virtual event - ESG in Fixed Income: Shining a Light on Transparency, Apr 22-23
  8. IDC Virtual Roundtable: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina - April 2021, April 22
  9. Nicsa webinar - Diversity Data: What is at stake? Business, Reputation and Talent, April 22
  10. IDC Webinar: The Future of the Workplace - April 2021, April 23
  11. IDC Virtual Roundtable: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas - April 2021, April 27
  12. IMEA In Session - Post-Covid Sales Coverage, April 27
  13. MFDF Case Studies in Fund Oversight — A Virtual Roundtable for Directors, Apr 28-29
  14. IDC Virtual Roundtable: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota - April 2021, April 29
  15. 44th Annual AIMSE Marketing & Sales Conference, May 2-4
  16. MFDF Director Discussion Series - Open Forum via Zoom (Southeast), May 5
  17. ICI 2021 General Membership Meeting - Day 1, May 6
  18. Emerging Manager Forum USA, May 12-14
  19. ICI 2021 General Membership Meeting - Day 2, May 13
  20. 2021 FINRA Annual Conference, May 18-20
  21. IDC Speaker Series - Abby Joseph Cohen: A Conversation About the State of the Global Markets, May 19
  22. 2nd annual ETFGI Global ETFs Insights Summit - USA, May 19-20
  23. MFDF Director Discussion Series - Open Forum via Zoom, May 19
  24. Irish Funds Online Annual Global Funds Conference 2021, May 19-20
  25. MFDF webinar - Fund Director Compensation: MPI Annual Survey (2021), May 20
  26. ICI 2021 Operations and Technology Conference, May 20

©All rights reserved to InvestmentWires, Inc. 1997-2021
14 Wall Street | 20th Floor | New York, NY 10005 | P: 212-331-8968 | F: 212-331-8998
Privacy Policy :: Terms of Use