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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Stupid tech investors

4 July 2017

Regular Aardvark readers will know that I predicted failure for the MJP right from the get-go.

Even when it first debuted at Oshkosh almost a decade ago, it was clear that the MJP was more a "flight of fancy" than a practical aerial vehicle.

One man's folly soon became a global fascination and Kiwi taxpayers were duped into handing over a princely sum -- despite the obvious failings that meant this flying machine would never ever get off the ground in the way its proponents promised.

Where are all the "deals" announced by the company over many years?

There was one deal that promised tens of millions of dollars in sales and a huge capital injection to set up large-scale manufacturing -- where's that now?

There was the worrying side-track into the realm of adventure tourism where people could pay a fist-full of money to fly the MJP in the safety of a warehouse, whilst "helpers" held onto its legs.

There was the promise of low-cost, high performance jet-packing for anyone who wanted to part with a six-figure sum -- but none have ever been sold to this day.

When the company announced its intentions to go public and list its shares I issued a very strong warning to "avoid" at all costs.

Sadly, it seems like far too many people were simply not listening.

If this Stuff story is to believed, Mr Ralf Rodl obviously isn't an Aardvark reader. He claims he's lost $1.25 million by investing in the MJP.

Of course before we all get too smug, don't forget that we have also lost a dollop of dosh on this project, by way of the government's taxpayer-funded investment in the lemon that is the MJP.

So why is it that someone who's smart enough to accumulate $1.25m that they can throw at a ridiculous concept such as the MJP isn't smart enough to do some basic homework before doing so?

I have to admit to scratching my head long and hard over that one.

And which one of the bright-spark bureaucrats within the ranks of our own government also failed to do their due-diligence before throwing cash at this lame duck?

But then again, I'm pretty sure that by now, Aardvark readers realise that as far as I can tell, Callaghan is just an old-boys' network where "who you know" outranks any scientific or commercial potential of a project when it comes time to dish out taxpayers' money.

So what's the news for those who were stupid enough to buy shares in the MJP without even googling long enough to find my warnings online?

Well the shareprice has tanked from A$2.07 in 2013 to just A$0.05 today.

What the? Hell, was I right or what?

What's even more worrying is that the company only has two months of operating funds left at its disposal so I expect that it's only a matter of a little time before those $0.05 shares are worth absolutely nothing at all.

Hell, even the intellectual property the company was claiming it had developed, such as the innovative high-powered engine that drove its two ducted fans, seems to be a bust. According to the Stuff story, the motor is worn out and needs a rebuild after only 30 hours of operation.

Crikey!

So here we have another case of dumb-arsed investors throwing their money at a fairy tale from the tech sector (not unlike IndraNet and IYoMu and a raft of other "avoid" companies I've highlighted in this blog over the years. Meanwhile, so many very good, very valuable, highly commercial Kiwi tech ideas wither and die on the vine for lack of angel or seed capital.

It seems that when it comes to attracting investors, the quality and value of your idea or concept runs a distant third place to "who you know" and how good you are at "spinning hype".

I've heard Kiwi investors say that they want to stick to property because the tech sector is too risky as an investment. Well to them I'd say -- perhaps you're just too stupid and lazy to spot the gems that are out there in the tech sector.

I long-ago gave up trying to raise funding for any of the ideas in my "million dollar ideas" notebook -- having realised quite early on that this country simply does not have any savvy venture capitalists who know what they're doing. When I want to turn an idea into a commercially viable product (as I am doing with my "sense and avoid" system), I prefer to simply do all the work myself and use my own capital. Yes it takes longer and runs the risk that I'll be pipped at the post because of the extra time this strategy takes -- but at least I don't have to deal with idiots carrying fat wallets.

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