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What do shareholders look like?

The dumb face of shareholders – looks a lot like me.

A month or so back, I bought shares in a company called Nearmap, almost purely because a mate of mine told me to, and he’d been right about A2 Milk – even though he was wrong to tell me to sell my A2 Milk shares when I did. (He denies telling me to do this, but I have the receipts in the form of a beer-fuelled Facebook convo, so…)

Anyway, I subsequently convinced another mate to buy Nearmap shares. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re basically in the business of surveying things from space.

It’s Google Maps on steroids, and they’re capable of performing tasks that would make a 20th-century science-fiction author weep with either joy or terror, depending on where they fell on the utopian/scale.

The other day, I was thinking about how removed that technology is from my day-to-day existence, and how it’s essentially through a random series of events that I came to be involved with the company at all, and sent my co-shareholder mate this message:

“So funny that a pair of dumb-dumbs like us own shares in Nearmap. It’s like a tiny version of how the whole financial system works – cashed-up know-nothings own the brainiac nerdstroms who do the actual work.”

He replied, “Ha ha ha, but I am sure the system’s also full of dumb-dumbs like us that go all in on Telstra and come up with pauper hair.”

Which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is an incisive insight into both the evolution of nigh-impenetrable slang between long-term friends, as well as the global economic system in which we’re all enmeshed.

On the one hand, our collective shares in one company or another are a drop in the ocean, but collectively we make decisions that affect the whole.

It’s a lot easier to buy and sell shares these days – I can do it on my phone while walking home from the pub, chatting to someone on my Bluetooth-fired earphones about how Telstra’s almost back to parity on what we paid back when the future of telecommunications infrastructure seemed bright in this country.

And I’m not arguing there should be a higher barrier to entry – why would I? – but it’s funny to think about what it’d be like if my core business was influenced on a daily basis by people with no real knowledge or interest in what I did; if insouciant dilettantes could poke around my documents and fiddle with whatever they liked.

Interesting thought experiment, isn’t it?

Now, don’t get me started on the time I could’ve made a fortune on Domino’s Pizza shares, but my wife nixed the transaction just because I was drunk and they weren’t delivering to our area…

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