Tuesday, April 10, 2007

James Enck 2.0

Mega-uber value readers of the world, by now it is probably blindingly obvious to even the most forgiving among you that the volume of posts to this blog has dropped dramatically since early February. As you may have detected from some relatively unsubtle hints, there is a reason for this, which I have already shared with many of you with whom I have more direct contact. I am now ready to come clean, as all the t's are now finally crossed.

After six-and-a-half years, I left Daiwa eleven days ago, and will next week take up a new role within the principal investing team of a well-known Wall Street investment bank. One reason I find this a particularly gratifying turn of events is that, just as I may be no ordinary analyst, this is also no ordinary team.
It has developed deep industry expertise and generally applies a greater level of focus in its investment process. It has been very successful in recent years investing in metropolitan fiber assets and portable/mobile broadband (two areas, you probably realize, which are near and dear to my heart). I think it's clear that my future colleagues do their homework and get involved early, well before the consensus has formed specific views on a space, and they take a broad thematic view across the full value chain (another nice area of fit) for investment opportunities, and search far and wide to find unique sources of information and market views. Perhaps most interestingly to me, the team has the mandate to invest in both public and private securities.

To say that I am very excited by this opportunity would be an understatement of epic proportions. However, one side effect of this move is that this humble bloglet, which ironically celebrated its third birthday on 30 March, the same day I said goodbye to my fellow Daiwans, must cease publication.

Judging from the reactions from those of you whom I have already briefed on this development, there may be a fair amount of dissatisfaction about this turn of events. I consider this to be a wonderful compliment. To think that (judging from the Bloglines subscription data I have, and my own tracking of site traffic) several hundred of you per day have given even a few precious minutes in your busy days to my ramblings over the past three years is more than enough – the thought that the blog might actually be missed is almost inconceivable to one who started with essentially no expectations. Recall that in my inaugural post I stated that the blog was essentially an experiment, an expression of frustration, a cry for help. That it has ended up being anything more significant to any of you is, if I'm honest, pretty damned surprising, and extremely gratifying.

However, lest we get caught up in the potentially negative interpretations of the move to a non-blogging me, let me explain a little about why I think this development is actually a very positive outcome within the confines of the "Web 2.0" weltaunschaung.

About six months after EuroTelcoblog moved from being an email blast to an online point of presence, I got an email out of the blue from the fund manager who was ultimately responsible for bringing me onboard at my future employers. He had stumbled across the site and found it useful. At the time it was just one of many interesting contacts which were coming my way from the blog – bright, inspired people with whom I would have almost certainly never had any contact if not for the fact that I had, via the blog, become visible (and accessible) to the world outside the confines of the investment banking research walled garden.

However, as was thankfully the case with many of the contacts which came my way via the blog, this particular dialogue became a sustained exchange of information and opinions. This process eventually led to some face-to-face meetings and culminated in a formal recruitment process, which brings us to the current situation. I hope that the other ongoing dialogues which have also arisen from this adventure in the blogosphere will also continue in the days ahead. Indeed, for those individuals and companies intent on innovation and disruption, there is probably, now more than ever before, a rationale for us to connect and share ideas and opinions.

But back for a moment to my statement that my current situation constitutes a positive outcome within the confines of the "Web 2.0" weltaunschaung. My view is that none of this would have been possible in the absence of a parallel social dynamic, and the tools which have accompanied/enabled it, towards a decentralization of information flows. The effects of this ongoing trend are pretty much impossible to predict from a macro perspective, but from where I sit, very much at the micro end of the spectrum, the message seems to be all too clear. Whoever you are, whatever your situation, if you have ideas which you are passionate about, and if you can find a voice with which to adequately express them, then the tools are there in abundance to do so, and the results may end up being surprising and life-transforming, so you might as well have a go and see where it leads.

So, that's pretty much it in a nutshell. I want to extend my respect and eternal gratitude to each and every one of you who has ever been kind enough to drop in, even to those of you who have vehemently disagreed with what I have said. I genuinely, literally, could not have kept this up for the past three years without your suggestions and ideas. I also wish to thank those individuals at Daiwa (you know who you are/were) who were supportive of some fairly unconventional research approaches on my part over the past four years, once I awoke to the need to do things differently.

As a parting gesture, I will be upgrading all mega-uber value readers to full Palladium Club status at no additional charge, as a sign of my undying appreciation. :-) Ping me if you're interested, and I'll let you know my future coordinates and contact details. Hopefully, at some future date, I may return to the blogosphere, and if so, trust that I will find some way to make my presence known. Until then, many thanks to all of you for a most wonderful and enriching three years. I've never known anything like it. It's had a profound effect on my life, and that's the whole point.

UPDATE on 11 April: When I was a kid, my mother used to regularly lecture me about always wanting to have the last word, but this really is the last word. I am truly humbled by the huge number of emails coming in, many from people I have never communicated with before. Thank you, and stay in touch! JE