But first . . .
So Borealis is back into single digits — it closed at $9.55 yesterday — which is surely discouraging to those who paid as much as $21 for it (most of mine was purchased around $3.50, but I’ve paid as much as $16.34) . . . but is basically irrelevant. The thing will either happen or it won’t. And by “the thing,” I mean most immediately (which could still be years off) WheelTug actually powering the plane you’re on as it backs out of the gate. But if that happens, it’s not crazy to think lots of other stuff could follow. (If this electric motor technology works with airplanes, might it find some application in automobiles? Might some of the company’s other hoped-for breakthrough technologies prove real, too?) At which point Borealis, which now trades with a market cap of $50 million — $25 million less than Demi Moore is asking for her apartment (though, admittedly it’s a triplex overlooking the park) (and, admittedly, she probably won’t get it) — would be worth billions.
Some of my smartest friends think there’s a minuscule chance Borealis will pull any of this off (while others, like me, would have assumed it should be spelled ‘miniscule’ but it’s not), which is why I always stress that you must only take this gamble with money you can truly afford to lose.*
But — as we have now demonstrated that the technology works . . . and as we now have partners and customers as real as Parker Hannifin, El Al, and others . . . and enthusiasts like airline industry dean Bob Crandall — I predict the chances are not minuscule at all.
Which brings me to the title of this column.
WORST PREDICTIONS EVER
Mine was that “A Chorus Line,” which I got to see in previews with its author, Jimmy Kirkwood, at the Public Theater, would never make it to Broadway. That I ultimately saw it five times and can sing you virtually word of it, should you ever fund yourself in hell with me, is irrelevant: when I first saw it, I thought it would flop.)
Here are 25 more (rock n’ roll would never catch on, said Variety; stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau, said Irving Fisher; man would never leave the earth’s atmosphere, said the New York Times). Plus — because if this web site is not about delivering value, what is it about? — 26 more. (High speed rail travel would never be possible because passengers, “unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia,” said a professor.)
So will people 10 years from now scoff at my having thought BOREF was a great lottery ticket at $10 a share — and the notion that this little company could enable boarding and deplaning from both front and back of the plane, cutting the time in half? Or will they scoff at those who said it could never happen (or that it would happen, but with some other company’s technology)?
I’m dying to find out.
If the odds on this particular lottery ticket are anywhere north of 10%, the math tells me its expected value is way more than its cost. But if the odds are minuscule, then it’s not.
In truth, we’ll never know what the odds actually were today. If it works out, we’ll assume the odds were great, even if, in truth, we totally lucked out by the skin of our teeth. If it fails, we’ll assume the odds were very long, even if we only missed by a hair.
*Though I don’t actually see how we could lose all our money — at the very least, all the company’s patents and intellectual property (and mineral rights) ought to be worth something, and entice the next generation of dreamers to buy shares from those who give up and sell. No?