Rejoice ladies and leeches, as today marks a very special occasion here at Evil Speculator. For it is today, exactly 10 years ago on August 3rd 2008, that I published my very first post on Evil Speculator, only to be followed by 4,238 more over the course of the ensuing decade. Quite frankly I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever host a financial trading blog, let alone that I would do it for such an extended time. So what the hell happened and how did we get here? Well, pack your bags because we’re taking a trip down memory lane!
The first half of 2008 was a pretty tough period for me. I was working on a consulting gig and after having spent over ten years in the SW racket I felt completely burned out, and finally had to admit to myself that working as a gun to hire in the software industry wasn’t going to work out for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to code and I really enjoy solving technical challenges, but what increasingly started to affect me was the prevailing corporate culture in especially large SW companies.
I am naturally a bit of a tinkerer and thus I love to explore and figure things out on my own. At the same time I also enjoy working in small teams contributing to a shared iterative goal that produces value for an organization over time. But corporate dynamics and interdepartmental intrigues and dealing with increasingly restrictive HR policies simply weren’t my cup of tea. Even company parties or corporate sponsored excursions seemed tantamount to Chinese water torture to me.
Now for years I had already pursued various ways of ‘getting out’ and the notion of trading for a living in particular seemed to check several of the boxes on my list of personal core priorities. For one trading allows you to be location independent and thus frees you from exactly the types of extended commutes I had been subjected to over the course of my career as an engineer.
Self direction, being your own boss, and irregular working hours also strongly appealed to me. And then there was the potential of almost unlimited financial gains, although somewhat understanding math as an engineer I was keenly aware of the potential risk as well. When a good friend of mine launched a futures trading firm around the year 2000 I jumped at the chance at helping him build his online presence, which in turn also allowed me to learn more about the trading ‘bizns’.
It didn’t take long for me to start trading my own account and of course back in those days I didn’t know a futures contract from a hole in the wall. Regrettably my friend’s trading firm didn’t survive its first year but I continued to trade my own assets over the coming years financing what at the time was more of a glorified hobby via my consulting gigs at various SW companies.
Then the big financial crisis reared its ugly head in mid to late 2007 and really got rolling in earnest in 2008. As I mentioned previously, I had reached emotional burn out territory, admittedly due to me working full-time on challenging software development projects whilst also trading my own money when I found the time. Which admittedly more often than not happened during lunch breaks or before heading out to work as I was located in California (where the market opens at 6:30am PST).
When my consulting gig eventually ended in July of 2008 I had a decision to make. Find a new job or cross the Rubicon so to say and finally try my luck at trading for a living. The reason why this possibility had even occurred to me was because I had done very well in the markets over the past months, mainly because I had been long puts all the way up to my ears. Yes, I was one of those perma-bears back in those days and there was an extended learning curve still ahead of me. Which of course continues to this day. We never really stop learning as traders, but in that respect it’s no different from being a software engineer.
Retail trading had really come into its own over the previous decade and especially ThinkOrSwim at that time was the trail blazer in the market with the brilliant Tom Sosnoff at its helm. Especially when it comes to trading options TOS was top notch and offered mere mortals the type of analytical tools and charting packages even professional traders would have sold their own grandmother for just a decade earlier.
And charting certainly was something I immediately took like a fish to water. Just like everyone else in our racket I had absorbed a ton of pertinent educational material and I knew just about enough to be dangerous. At the same time trading blogs were the new big thing and one of my favorites hangouts at the time was a site called OptionAddicts run by a very smart and talented fellow called Jeff Kohler. I really enjoyed sharing my work there and although I still had a lot to learn my charts seemed to be very well received.
That is until I started to post increasingly bearish scenarios in the summer of 2008, suggesting that a major market correction was looming ahead. The fact that I was right about this was immaterial to be honest, I was an inexperienced market analyst who was projecting his opinions on the future price direction in the stock market (which was what I was mainly focused on back then). And apparently quite a few people started to complain to Jeff about it, because at some point I received his seminal email asking me to hold back a little with those bearish calls.
To be clear I was not officially booted off the site, Jeff was very cool about it and simply told me that people were getting a bit annoyed by this purported perma-bear that couldn’t shut up about some impending doomsday scenario. And being a decade less wiser and thick skinned than I am now I did exactly the opposite of what Jeff had probably intended: I marched off in a huff, never looked back, and decided to start my own trading blog. For the record: I have not spoken to Jeff in a very long time but last time we did talk on the phone in 2010 I think we had remained on very good terms.
Suffice to say that at the time I was probably less than half the trader that Jeff and his senior crew were. But I had smelled blood and was determined to go out there and make myself heard. So one weekend in late July I busily went to work and put together the first version of Evil Speculator. The name actually was inspired by some of the financial news at the time blaming ‘evil speculators’ for the continued downside in the equities market. I simply added a dose of teutonic cynicism and thus evilspeculator the trading blog was born.
Its supposed mission was to educate and share constructive financial analysis among a community of like minded traders, whilst dispensing with all the hype and misleading news. But at the same time we never actually expect to be taken seriously and the general idea was to cater financial information to a small cadre of die-hard (and very bearish) traders in a humorous and somewhat satirical way. And of course we all intended to bank a fortune in the impending wipe out in equities. I’ll cover that story another day
Here’s what we posted on the new site’s ‘about’ page: Evil Speculator is dedicated to identifying probabilities of price targets in the financial markets. To that end, we post short term market updates several times a week and engage in pertinent discussions. This is an open forum and everyone is invited to participate. We only ask that you keep it civil – even if you disagree with our outlandish predictions. Evil or not – we don’t enjoy foul language (unless it’s funny).
Now remember, that was a few months before ZeroHedge had appeared on the scenes in January of 2009. The financial blogging space was a lot more fragmented back then and we didn’t yet compete with the likes of Facebook or Twitter. And for some reason the blog caught on very quickly, thanks mostly to cross over traffic from other sites on which I had previously been participating. It was something new and before I knew it thousands of people were checking the site on a daily basis. I don’t think this would be possible in this day and age as the competition for eyeballs has grown exponentially ever since.
Encouraged by the rapid success I eventually introduced various pay2play services in order to justify at least some of my time spent here on a daily basis. A few of you guys reading this and even some of my most loyal subscribers actually go back all the way to those early years. I met Scott this way and we became friends, in time we even started to collaborate on various projects, which continues to this very day.
A lot of people have come and gone over the years. In that time I have seen some people turn from noobs into stone cold professional traders. Unfortunately I also had the questionable honor of seeing a lot more give up, lose interest, or sometimes blow up their trading accounts, no matter how much help and constructive advise was offered. All I can say is that for some reason I am still here doing this a decade later. And I like to think that in the process it helped me grow as a trader as well as a person.
I am not sure how many more years doing this I have in me, but I guess it’s not just up to yours truly, but to the community as a whole. There is no way I could have made it this far without the help, friendship, and of course the financial support afforded by my intrepid subscribers. It’s you guys I built the site for in the first place, and as long as you keep coming I’ll be here posting my charts and market analysis. And of course I’ve got a lot more silly jokes and politically incorrect wisecracks waiting to be unleashed on unsuspecting victims.
Thanks for everything, guys! It’s been a wild ride for sure and we all learned a lot on the way. If nothing else it’s been a lot of laughs and we even banked some ill-gotten coin in the process. Let’s hope I’ll still be here writing a similar post in August of 2028 – and you’ll be here to read it! Unless of course I’m retired on some quiet island or dead in the ground by then – in that case you can all buzz off!
P.S.: Special thanks to the GoldGerb, Scott ‘The Convict’ Phillips, Ronebadger, HD, BobbyLow, Yoda, tradingmom, ridingwaves, BobbyLow, and many others I didn’t mention and who’ve been contributing here since the beginning. Also special thanks to Julie – a relative new comer who however has more than made up for time in volume over the past year. And of course a very special thanks to all of my subs who help keeping the lights on at the lair and the server running.
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