The Online Stock Broker
Thursday, December 8, 1994 by Dave Winer.
I've been listening to lots of Aretha Franklin these days. How about exclusively? Yeah. Some great music. Think! Think about what you're trying to do to me! She just wants respect. Sock it to me. She don't mind company, because company is all right with her, every once in a while. But when Dr. Feelgood is around, according to Aretha, "Girls, I dig you but I just don't have time to sit and chitchat and smile." She adds: "They say it's a man's world, but you can't prove that by me."
I'm in love. Aretha is a soulful woman. I just wanted to get that out there.
Does the Internet have to become a system for commerce in order for it to have a place in our world? Can you imagine a world that the Internet is *not* part of? In other words, can you imagine a global network that isn't compatible with TCP/IP? That doesn't have webs and web browsers? Shoot! No way. Will it keep growing? Of course. What's the big deal anyway?
The greedy VCs want to make money, as usual. It's their job. I suppose somebody's got to do it. But does it *have* to be thru electronic shopping? No way! [Finally I get to the point.]
Does anyone know a stock broker who is online, has an email account, and checks it regularly? If so, please give him or her my email account (email@example.com). I want to do some deals at the end of the year. I'm going to have to play phone tag with my broker for the next week or so to get the info I need to make my decision. Why can't I do this via email? Because stock brokers don't have email accounts! Oh man. [I'm not a fax man, sorry.]
I also want a local real estate agent I can email with.
We already have a net that's really good at connecting people to people. We just need more people. And with more people, we're going to want some more software and some new services. [There's hope for the VCs!]
I predict that the first stock broker you can email with is going to make a few million in commissions the first year he or she is online. And probably a few million every year after that. Then *every* broker is going to rush to get online. It's a business that *begs* to be converted to the superhighway. But instead of moving around truckloads of money, the highway is going to be moving around ideas.
It's OK to have an online cash register. But realize that this is an experiment. We already know that people-to-people connections are greatly enhanced by tag-less and paper-less electronic links. We don't know that people want to shop thru their computer. [Personally I think they do -- I want to do it too -- but I've been wrong before.]
Focus on building services and software that make it easy for the *people* of businesses to be connected with the people of the world. It has to be much easier to set up a new service. We need a Compaq of ISPs, and no, I don't believe AT&T and PacBell, etc are going to figure out how to do this on their own. They'll buy the Compaq, or invest in it, or ally with it, or whatever. It has to be entrepreneurial at first. You'll win if you bet on setting up this Compaq style company, it emphasizes professionalism, reliability and thruput, and followup. A lot of businesses want to get online, and many more are going to want to.
Along with the Compaq, there needs to be a Lotus, right? I know, you guys think it's Netscape Inc. I don't. They're too thin. Not enough technology. Too many pieces missing. Maybe they can acquire them. Something richer and deeper is needed to make it really fly, and it's got to be *much* easier for businesses to get on the air, and it has to be much better at connecting people to people. That's where I'm putting my money.
But watch out -- America On-Line is acquiring all the pieces they need to be the other side of this equation. Smart guys over there.
Have a grrrrreat day!
PS: Yesterday seemed to be Electronic Money Day on National Public Radio. I tuned into Steven Levy (one of my subscribers!) being interviewed about his current article in "Wired" about electronic money. Later in the day Bank of America and NetScape made a joint announcement about electronic cash over the Internet.
PPS: To the Netscape guys: how about doing a server for the Mac platform? And let's talk about tweaking the interapplication wires in your client. Great start! They can be even better. Let's work together. I'm glad to help.
PPPS: Watch out, Gina Smith's special on the Internet is airing to PBS stations nationwide, to rave reviews. Gina is one of *our* girls, -- so be sure to watch it! [And send fan-email to firstname.lastname@example.org.]
PPPPS: It's cold in California. Brrrrr. In case you were wondering, there *is* a maui.com.
PPPPPS: And where ever you are Aretha, I love you!!!