Being early and not knowing what you have

Fred Wilson writing at A VC notes in a great (short) post how earlier in his career his venture capital firm invested in the original incarnation of TheStreet.com. In a recent discussion with Jim Cramer he notes how they were essentially tweeting and blogging about finance and investments before it became mainstream. Wilson writes:

But we didn’t know that. The money our firm invested went to hiring a team of journalists and we saw ourselves as the Wall Street Journal of the web. That was a mistake. The Wall Street Journal is the Wall Street Journal of the web. What Jim was doing was something way more native, way more powerful, and way more important. But we missed it.

TheStreet.com has gone on to build a niche financial publishing business that is a solid and profitable company. But it could have been the Twitter and Blogger of Wall Street. That’s what it was at the start. But we didn’t know what we had.

Wilson isn’t the first person to note this situation. Josh Brown, Mebane Faber and myself have noted the very same thing. However whatever window that was open for the company has likely long since passed. I wrote just about a year ago:

In short, TheStreet.com like many other media properties got disrupted. First the emergence of the blogs provided finance-focused writers their own, open platform to connect with readers. The blogosphere is now a well-established part of the finance scene. So much so that the mainstream media has adopted the blog format in a very real way. Second the emergence of microblogs in the form of Twitter and StockTwits has further enhanced the ways in which traders and investors can connect. Investors now to track news and conversation in real-time.

The trend toward a more social finance has only accelerated in the past year. There is an old saying in investing that ‘being early is the same thing as being wrong.’ The same could be said that ‘not knowing what you have’ puts you in the same boat.

Earlier thoughts on TheStreet.com:

How to fix TheStreet.com.  (Reformed Broker)

Another print publication bites the dust.  (Mebane Faber)

TheStreet.com the Motown Records of the financial web.  (Reformed Broker)

Putting the social in social finance.  (Abnormal Returns)

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