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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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(Sometimes) I hate it when I'm right

28 September 2018

Over the years, I've written about a number of "tech ventures" out of NZ which I quite accurately predicted would fail.

I can't be bothered searching the archives but just some of those companies included IndraNet's mesh-networking tech and their follow-up air-car activities; iyomu (the social media site for grown-ups), the lame "magnetic fuel-saver" scheme endorsed by former deputy PM Jim Anderton, TGR Helicorp, a raft of TradeMe "wannabes" and of course the infamous Martin Jetpack.

And it is about the last of these ventures that I write today, because of news just in on the wires.

According to this NZH story, MJP has shed the vast majority of its staff and its future looks bleak.

Once again I have to ask, why the hell don't people investing in these outfits do their due diligence?

I'm sure there'll be a few mom and pop investors who didn't listen to my "avoid, avoid, avoid" advice with respect to the share float a few years ago and who will now bitch and moan that they've lost their dosh.

IToldYaSo!

Although I have little sympathy for those who blundered ahead and threw money at the MJP (or any of the other crazy Kiwi ventures I've listed as no-go zones), I can't help but feel sorry for all the other NZers with great ideas who, in light of yet another hi-tech failure out of this country, will find it even harder to get the funding they so badly need to get their product or service to market.

Every time one of these idiot "pie in the sky" companies crashes and burns, taking other people's money with them, they further erode the public confidence in New Zealand's tech industry. Even if/when those with genuinely good ideas and sound business plans can raise money, they'll be penalised with huge rates of interest or the need to virtually give away large chunks of their business to gain that financial support.

In the wake of the MJP situation, local private investors will once again turn to property rather than productive enterprise as a place to secure their retirement funds. Property is safe... they're not making any more of it so its value will continue to climb over the fullness of time and there's no risk -- is what I hear.

To be brutally honest, I have to agree.

However, this country will never reach its full potential in terms of GDP and growth if our best and brightest are driven offshore with their brilliant ideas tucked firmly under their arms -- for lack of proper funding and investment support here at home.

Even the Kiwi ventures that "made it" here have effectively had to sell their souls to offshore investors so as to secure the funding needed to grow... just look at RocketLab.

So throw your money into land and houses eh?

Property investment may be great for the investor... but it's awful news for the country as a whole and for everyone else. Property as such does not "produce" anything. It creates no export receipts and it creates no jobs. Simply buying a house at one price and selling it at a higher price only creates commissions for real-estate salesmen, bigger interest payments to Aussie banks and simply steals from future generations who are left with ever-soaring prices. The "profits" from speculative property investment are simply a tax on our children and their children's children.

Anyone with a social conscience would do well to look at the bigger picture when choosing secondary or tertiary investments -- but in light of the way so many idiots throw their money away on ill-conceived tech ventures, I can understand why they don't.

Ah well, I'll keep looking out for lunatic ventures and try to warn folks when I spot them. Sadly however, fools and their money are something that I have no control over and far too many of them seem happy to throw their cash down the toilet, even when warned of the imbecility of their investments.

Oh how I wonder where we might be now if previous governments had actually followed-through on their singing the praises of a "knowledge based economy" and the so-called "knowledge wave".

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