Here’s a great interview with Stanley Druckenmiller at the Lost Tree Club in 2015. While the entire interview is a must read for all investors, there’s one answer from Druckenmiller that requires closer attention. Ken Langone asks Druckenmiller:
KL: You mentioned some of your biggest winners in your career. What is the biggest mistake you made and what did you learn from it?
Here is Druckenmiller’s response:
SD: Well, I made a lot of mistakes, but I made one real doozy. So, this is kind of a funny story, at least it is 15 years later because the pain has subsided a little. But in 1999 after Yahoo and America Online had already gone up like tenfold, I got the bright idea at Soros to short internet stocks. And I put 200 million in them in about February and by mid-march the 200 million short I had lost $600 million, gotten completely beat up and was down like 15 percent on the year. And I was very proud of the fact that I never had a down year, and I thought well, I’m finished.
So, the next thing that happens is I can’t remember whether I went to Silicon Valley or I talked to some 22-year-old with Asperger’s. But whoever it was, they convinced me about this new tech boom that was going to take place. So I went and hired a couple of gun slingers because we only knew about IBM and Hewlett-Packard. I needed Ventas and Verisign. I wanted the six. So, we hired this guy and we end up on the year — we had been down 15 and we ended up like 35 percent on the year. And the Nasdaq’s gone up 400 percent.
So, I’ll never forget it. January of 2000 I go into Soros’s office and I say I’m selling all the tech stocks, selling everything. This is crazy. [unint.] at 104 times earnings. This is nuts. Just kind of as I explained earlier, we’re going to step aside, wait for the next fat pitch. I didn’t fire the two gun slingers. They didn’t have enough money to really hurt the fund, but they started making 3 percent a day and I’m out. It is driving me nuts. I mean their little account is like up 50 percent on the year. I think Quantum was up seven. It’s just sitting there.
So like around March I could feel it coming. I just – I had to play. I couldn’t help myself. And three times during the same week I pick up a – don’t do it. Don’t do it. Anyway, I pick up the phone finally. I think I missed the top by an hour. I bought $6 billion worth of tech stocks, and in six weeks I had left Soros and I had lost $3 billion in that one play. You asked me what I learned. I didn’t learn anything. I already knew that I wasn’t supposed to do that. I was just an emotional basket case and couldn’t help myself. So, maybe I learned not to do it again. But I already knew that.
You can read the entire interview here.
For more articles like this, check out our recent articles here.
Don’t forget to check out our FREE Large Cap 1000 – Stock Screener, here at The Acquirer’s Multiple: