I’m about to open a new chapter in the life of Weiss Research.
Today, I’m going to give you the introduction to the most powerful — and potentially most profitable — supertrend of 2015.
Tomorrow, Jon Markman will start giving you THE book on this subject.
And in recent weeks we’ve already emailed you the foreword:
Three weeks ago, I revealed the one broad stock sector that was the single best performer when energy markets collapse — technology.
Historically, it has surged an average of 64% during major oil-price declines, plus another 35.1% within 12 months after oil prices hit bottom.
And it makes all the sense in the world: Consumers and corporations save fortunes on energy. So they promptly shift those resources to the one thing that can most efficiently improve their lives or their business — hardware and software.
Two weeks ago, I drilled down deeper and demonstrated that, in the world of technology, the single subsector that had the best performance of all was software and related services — up 77.5% during the oil-price decline and up another 49.9% twelve months later.
And today, I’m going to tell you about one massive, explosive example of a new techno-megatrend few people are talking about. Our overarching goal:
To show you how to invest safely in the most advanced tech companies by using the most advanced investment technology.
Why are we taking this crucial step right here and right now? For four critical reasons …
First, because that’s where all the facts are steering us — forcefully and unambiguously:
I repeat: Up 77.5% during oil-price collapses, then up another 49.9% one year later.
More ordinary investors becoming millionaires than in any other place or time.
Greater improvements to our lives than from any other material source.
Second, because, in the past, too many investors made too many fortunes on paper only … and then gave it all back. They never quite learned how to do it prudently, safely, and permanently (our forté).
Third, because technology — and especially software — is probably the only constructive megatrend on the entire planet that can pierce through the many destructive forces I told about last week — Turmoil, QE, Deflation, War and Terror.
And last, because technology has always been such an important part of my own life.
Most readers know me as the person behind Weiss Ratings, our primary tool designed to help investors not only make money but keep it as well.
What you may not know, however, is that, in order to achieve those goals, I’m also a power user of technology — not just to crunch massive amounts of data, but also in my daily life.
No, I’m not a tech-stock specialist. For that expertise, I turn to Money and Markets editor Jon Markman, who, as I said, will be picking up this story tomorrow morning.
For now, I just wanted you to know that technology is not exactly new to me.
I used mainframe computers long before monitors existed, inputting my formulas with punch cards and spending more money on green-bar print-outs than we spend today on some of our hardware.
I was doing personal computing long before personal computers existed — with then-powerful hand-held programmable calculators, such as my Texas Instruments TI-59.
I opened my first online email account long before the World Wide Web was created — at a time when the Internet existed only at major universities, the Pentagon, the Whitehouse and other large institutions.
And three years before a tiny upstart company called Microsoft launched its MS-DOS 1.0, I made sure all employees at Weiss Research had access to the Ferrari of hacker computers — the IMSAI 8080 (later featured in the 1983 movie “War Games.”)
Fast-forward to today, and we’ve got a network of computer servers crunching trillions of pieces of data daily … replicating the logical thinking process of the most astute analyst … and issuing Weiss Ratings on tens of thousands of financial institutions and investments. (To access the latest Weiss Ratings, visit www.weisswatchdog.com.)
But all of this is just a tiny sample of the amazing impact technology can have on your life — and on your money.
What about the sci-fi nightmare of powerful technology manipulated by evil masterminds to destroy humanity as we know it? We’ve seen some close calls. But it has never happened.
Quite to the contrary, nearly every techno-megatrend today has the potential to empower citizens more than their governments … enable small entrepreneurs more than many corporate giants … and enrich individual investors more than some banks.
Moreover, right now, one particular techno-trend in particular has burst onto the global scene with gale force …
The Mobile Chat Superboom
I’m talking about a series of mobile communication apps that are threatening to blow away Gmail, Facebook, and even Skype — to communicate and network instantly by exchanging text, images, voice, video and more.
I personally use these apps a lot because I have family, friends and business contacts on virtually every continent. They have migrated away from email, Skype and even the “old-fashioned” text messaging that comes with your cell phone service (SMS). So if I want to stay in touch, it’s not like I have a choice. I must follow the gang.
What’s so remarkable about these apps isn’t just their features. It’s the lightning-like growth of their user bases — much faster than virtually anything we’ve seen before.
Just look back at what we thought were incredible growth rates of the recent past and you’ll see what I mean:
Twitter took just over eight years to get to 284 million monthly active users. Facebook, the king of social networking, took ten years to get to where it is today. And Google, the global giant of search engines, took sixteen years.
All three are in the superstar sector I told you about at the outset — software and related services. All three have been the stellar leaders in transforming ordinary investors into millionaires.
And yet, among all three, the rapid growth they’ve seen in users pales in comparison to the explosive growth we’re now seeing in the most recent — and perhaps least understood — techno-trend of our era: The superboom in mobile chat applications.
As I said, in the good ol’ days (a “long” 12 months ago), I used to rely mostly on SMS text messages. But now, I’m starting to leave them behind. (As you can see from my iPhone screen to the left, I already have a pile-up of 84 unread messages.)
I’m shifting instead to a wide array of mobile chat apps — WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, LINE, and several more.
All of these chat apps are available in English and virtually any major language. All are usable from any place on the planet with a Web connection. But my personal and business contacts are all over the map — both in the real world and in app-land.
Many of my U.S. and Latin American contacts are on WhatsApp.
But in early 2009, the company didn’t even exist. Now, just six years later, it has more than 700 million users and has been acquired by Facebook for $19 billion. (You won’t see it on FB because the company has promised to keep the two separate.)
Most of my China contacts are on WeChat(Wēixìn in Chinese) — another text and voice messaging app that was just released four years ago and now suddenly has almost a half-billion registered users globally.
Meanwhile, most of my contacts in the Philippines, North Africa and the Middle East are on Viber. So I decided to use that one too. Number of users: Another 400 million worldwide!
At this point, I figured I had pretty much all my bases covered — apps with nearly 2 billion users combined … until, that is, I went to visit my son Anthony at his workplace in Tokyo. His associates promptly persuaded me to download LINE, which has had the fastest growth of all.
It was launched in Japan in 2011. Within just eighteen months, it had 100 million users. Six months later, it doubled to 200 million. And now it has close to 600 million users worldwide, more than the total population of Japan, the United States and Russia combined.
How did it grow so fast even in a field that already seemed so crowded?
Simple: Unlike the folks at most of its competitors, LINE marketing execs figured out how to get quick cash revenues from their users just as soon as they signed up — not with ads, but by selling them cheap little images (stickers and emoticons).
Suddenly, all over the world, a huge chunk of the mobile communication is switching, en masse, from words to these images, and LINE figured out exactly how to fan — and tap into — the energy of that fire.
Plus, it’s not just the kids. When I exchange instant messages with a 50-year-old, Asahi-beer-drinking, baseball fan near Osaka, he sends me a half-dozen of these every minute or so. He even strings them together like words to form sentences.
LINE is in the forefront of making money from this switch, promptly, plowing that money into ever-bigger efforts to expand their user base even more.
Last summer, the company was valued at $9.2 billion. But they decided not to go public yet. They first wanted to go global. Then, THIS year, maybe you’ll see a big LINE IPO.
This is one reason I downloaded LINE too.
“But that’s it!” I said. “No more mobile chat apps for me!”
Famous last words.
Just this past Thursday, Anna, our research assistant in Moscow, told me that NONE of the apps I’ve downloaded so far are likely to ever penetrate a whole new world that’s suddenly popped up big in recent months.
She’s talking about special apps that let you chat and post under the cloak of privacy, security and anonymity.
Like Whisper, for example. Surging in popularity. Especially in countries where users fear that anti-establishment chatter can lead to severe punishment, or worse.
Why is this happening?
Why have mobile chat apps
grown so much so fast?
First, because the communication is far quicker, richer and friendlier than email or even Facebook.
As I said, you can instantly exchange not just text but also pictures, voice recordings and videos — not just by creating your own, but also by selecting from vast libraries of canned images. Pictures that chat louder — and faster — than a thousand words.
You can do it one-to-one, or in a group.
You can do it by swapping messages or recordings back and forth like a Ping-Pong ball … or by going LIVE with a two-way voice or video link like Skype or FaceTime.
Second, it’s also growing like crazy for an entirely unexpected reason — because it can be such a powerful political tool. Especially for those wanting to complain about, or change, the established order in countries where Facebook and Twitter posts are forbidden or too risky!
Last summer, for example, when ISIS was on a mad bloody rampage in Iraq, Whisper (the mobile chat app that allows people to post or communicate anonymously) saw a massive spike of users in the region.
Within just two days, the user base of “Whisperers” in Iraq tripled. Two days later, it doubled again!
And interestingly these apps know no political boundaries. ISIS militants or Iraqi military. Sworn enemies and impromptu allies. Even U.S. pilots on bombing missions in the region are said to be using the same app as those being bombed — to bicker, rave, rant or opine on military operations.
Meanwhile, in Russia, a Whisper lookalike, Podslushano (translation: overheard) has popped up out of nowhere and suddenly registered 2.7 million users — all whispering loudly, shouting softly, or just blowing off steam at the power elite.
Third, like Skype and FaceTime, all of this is multigenerational.
Last week at Costco, I saw a 70-year-old grandmother apparently trying to text her granddaughter on an iPhone 6 Plus … even as she pushed her cart down the aisle between organic soaps and cheap candy.
But sitting in her cart was her 2-year-old grandson, vying for the iPhone to play his favorite little game.
A struggle ensued, which the toddler, of course, ultimately won, taking full possession of the device.
Strangely, though, instead of playing his game, he was intrigued by the chat program’s emoticons and inadvertently began firing them off to his cousin with great delight.
In other parts of the world, it seems some people can live without a home — but not without their chats and social networks.
Anna says she was walking with a friend near Moscow’s Kazansky Station when a homeless man approached them — not to panhandle, mind you … but to beg for a couple of minutes on her friend’s mobile device.
They handed the phone to him. He checked for messages from friends at VKontacte, the Russian version of Facebook. He gave it back. And they resumed their walk.
A roof over his head? A few rubles for a cup of coffee? Nah! He could live without those. But staying in touch with friends? Now that’s somethinghe could not miss for anything in the world.
Fourth, chat apps have major PRACTICAL uses. Like a quick, urgent conference chat with business associates all over the globe.
What’s one of the most practical of all? That’s what Jon Markman wants to tell you about tomorrow. Here’s a sneak preview …
“When I go to New York,” he says, “I won’t have to wait for — or fight for — a yellow cab on a rain-soaked corner ever again!
“By pressing a couple of buttons on my Nexus 6, I can get a car to promptly meet me whenever and wherever I want … see the driver’s picture on my chat app almost instantly … stay in continuing contact with him or her via chat … automatically have the fare charged to my PayPal account … get my receipt instantly in my inbox … and then go back to mobile chat again if I’ve left something in the back seat.
“Ditto for Chicago, LA, Seattle and even all those suburbs where yellow cabs from downtown seem scarcer than green men from Mars.”
He’s talking, of course, about Uber.
Plus, he plans to tell you how to catch the right ride from the right place when Uber goes public, probably later this year.
Will Uber truly be the hottest IPO of 2015, as most of Wall Street seems to think? And even if it is, should you jump into the fray from the get-go, or wait a few months for the frenzy to cool off?
Jon will give you his answers here tomorrow morning.
Fifth and most obviously, the chat business is growing like crazy because it’s mobile! And the go-mobile megatrend, according to Jon, is the most life-transforming, wealth-creating techno-cultural revolution since electricity.
Check your inbox for the Money and Markets message from Jon this time tomorrow. Then, look to him to learn how to participate — and to do so prudently.
Good luck and God bless!