Rising Risks for Tech Giants

Published on
January 12th, 2018
63 minutes

Rising Risks for Tech Giants

The Interview ·
Featuring Fred Hickey & Thomas Thornton

Published on: January 12th, 2018 • Duration: 63 minutes

Fred Hickey, editor of The High Tech Strategist, provides his unique take on the state of the technology sector, in this conversation with Tommy Thornton. Cutting through the valuations quandary, Fred questions the price people are paying for Apple, spells out the overseas regulatory threats for Facebook and Google, and offers a reminder that pioneers are the ones that can end up with arrows in their backs. Filmed December 21st, 2017 in New Hampshire.


  • PS
    Paul S.
    28 January 2019 @ 01:20
    Yes, I'd like to see Fred with an update!
  • NZ
    Nicolas Z.
    16 November 2018 @ 17:36
    Bring back Fred, please!
  • TP
    Tom P.
    25 January 2018 @ 00:02
    Too many wise grandads losing money on RV. I'd suggest interviewing more 26 year old long-only disciples: "bull market dude".
    • MS
      Mark S.
      25 July 2018 @ 04:11
      Not worried, all of the 20 & 30 somethings will get caught with their pants down, eventually giving it all a back and then some, just as they we old farts did in 2001-02 and with a little wisdom under our belts, less so in 2008-09. Wisdom and experience must be earned. Confusing brains for a bull market is hubris, keeping much of what you've made when the bull dies is virtue.
  • KS
    Kathleen S.
    19 April 2018 @ 12:45
    Fred is giving misleading information about crypto currencies -- I suggest that if anyone here is interested in looking into crypto they should look into Andreas Antonopoulus, Tim Draper (one of the most successful VC investors in history), and Dan Larimer -- these are experts on the subject. His bias against it and his positions in precious metals make him unable to take a critical view of this new technology and what it has to offer. I hold both precious metals and some cryptos (yes there alot of crap coins out there, but there are some excellent ones too, must do research).
  • AP
    Andy P.
    20 February 2018 @ 04:23
    Subscriber 2010-2016. Hickey was a perpetual gold miner bull and was short tech various tech stocks that have had massive gains during this period. Smart guy but good luck trading with him.
  • RM
    Ryan M.
    11 February 2018 @ 22:25
    Just relistened to this interview. It does seem very prophetic.
  • Kv
    Kristian v.
    10 February 2018 @ 09:06
    Wow! This seems prophetic given recent developments.
  • JD
    Joseph D.
    7 February 2018 @ 19:43
    Does anyone know the best way to reach out to Fred in regards to his newsletter subscription?
  • ZA
    Ziriad A.
    1 February 2018 @ 10:08
    Samsung just publicly announced chips designed for cryptocurrency mining and other semi players ramping the AI/Crypto effort, I tend to agree on NVDA. Excellent interview!
  • TK
    Thomas K.
    25 January 2018 @ 04:50
    The one place where I disagree is Palo Alto. Particularly if you're a long term investor, I don't consider this a good time to pour money into a market sector as mature as next gen firewalls. Their business model is under threat from a combination of: 1) major cloud providers who want to provide network security as part of their own seamless interface, and 2) newcomers who are hoping to completely cut security boxes out of the middle of the network in favor of distributed security models. What I've been hearing on the ground is that the new cloud-based solutions from major next gen firewall vendors (Palo Alto included) are excruciatingly difficult to deploy. Cloud networking is a rather different paradigm; these companies are evidently struggling to pivot their engineering organizations into a world increasingly based on radically different network topologies, where, furthermore, solutions must be entirely in software (because the Amazons of the world will not open up their hardware stacks--if anything, they're in the process of building even deeper moats by growing in-house custom silicon design shops). And, in classic Innovator's Dilemma fashion, the dominant firewall players seem to be viewing cloud technologies as "checkbox" requirements coming from production management, rather than the manifestly important strategic initiatives they should be considered. While I absolutely expect there eventually to be a cyclical (and someday even a secular) trend reversal away from renting cloud resources, we aren't likely to see that first derivative zero crossing soon. This is seemingly a case of history rhyming: we're overbuilding cloud capacity in much the same sense that we overbuilt backhaul fiber around the dot com boom. Consequently, we're liable to see an extended period of deflation in the cloud space until the obsolescence cycle draws some insolvent firms too deep into ponzi territory. Against the dominant cloud vendors, the next gen vendors are at a competitive disadvantage. Amazon et al. will: 1) back their native solutions with custom silicon (simultaneously boosting throughput, reducing latency, and reducing power consumption relative to the outside competition, who are forced to run as software on rented general-purpose hardware); 2) provide a uniform experience vis a vis the rest of their cloud offerings; and 3) leverage the network effects attendant to hosting an ecosystem of niche offerings from hundreds of cloud startups (i.e., all the little cloud tools vendors will prioritize supporting the cloud vendor's in-house solution over those from third parties). Furthermore, I contend we are at the tail-end of what has been a great multi-decade run for hardware firewalls. We are approaching a phase transition similar to what has happened in the storage industry. The entrenched players are poised to be victims of an inexorable migration from hardware to software. The barriers to entry for pure-software solutions are falling--partly as a consequence of Moore's law, and partly as a consequence of the ability to stand on the shoulders of giants (by leveraging the explosion of open source software libraries as an effective foundation). Furthermore, a pure-software security solution can provide at least an order of magnitude more functionality than hardware boxes in the core of the network: enforcing policies closer to the communicating applications permits writing richer, more nuanced policies; and, it gives richer, higher fidelity insight into the behavior of the system than can be discerned from a box sitting at a distance from the computers running applications. Beyond sales narrative, the economics are acting as a wedge pushing this market towards software because: 1) the economies of software R&D give it a cost structure advantage, 2) the cloud's inherent preference for software-only solutions is a forcing function, and 3) with greater visibility into behavior, and vast burst processing power via the cloud, come opportunities to apply machine learning to the problem of policy construction and maintenance (thereby reducing labor costs). While the entrenched players could step up to the plate and build software-only solutions, my experience says that's unlikely to work well. The skill sets required will prove an impedance mismatch with the DNA of a formerly hardware appliance-centric software engineering team. Full disclosure: I'm affiliated with a disruptor in this space, so feel free to take my perspective with a suitable grain of salt :)
    • TB
      Tim B.
      29 January 2018 @ 03:49
      One of the great things about RV is the well thought-out viewpoints of fellow subscribers such as this one. Thanks
  • AL
    Alex L.
    27 January 2018 @ 22:05
    This was a very interesting interview with some excellent perspective. However from a production standpoint - the audio was incredibly inconsistent. One minute, I can barely hear what Fred is saying, the next the audio is blasting through my speakers as if he is shouting. Please, please apply some kind of volume leveling process, or improve the way in which your guests are recorded!
  • RM
    Russell M.
    18 January 2018 @ 14:18
    Crypto currencies are not currencies because the transaction costs are too high as is the volatility. Crypto currencies also have the energy consumption problem which is being worked on. I believe Etherium is working on converting to a less energy consumptive security model called stake holder verification. I am not a technology guy. Like gold, individual crypto currencies cannot be created in unlimited amounts out of thin air like fiat currencies (e.g. the dollar) can. While there can be proliferation crypto currencies through creation of new ones, there is a network effect that favors the first movers. So the major crypto currencies that solve the energy problem could wind up being a popular store of value like gold except that is more easily held and transferred than gold. That possibility attracts speculators and traders which will make for a bumpy ride. When the crypto market matures and volatility calms down, crypto transaction costs will come down just like credit cards (and probably lower). In that event, crypto currencies could just as easily act as a currency as the dollar except it will have the added advantage to holders that governments will not be able to inflate the value away. That is the value proposition as I see it.
  • SS
    Swagotom S.
    18 January 2018 @ 02:45
    After watching this insightful conversation betn Fred Hickey & Tommy Thornton, all on a sudden, it seemed, probably I should re-listen to the conversation betn David Zervos and Raoul Pal (link below) esp. for what is going on in the DJI every week and with the impact of deregulation / repatriation. I think Raoul Pal should bring another conversation with David Zervos, even as a short form. Looks like many of us are missing a big picture of deregulation. https://www.realvision.com/rv/channel/realvision/videos/cc107eae3c294b9194af1213e2be57fb
  • vp
    vasilis p.
    17 January 2018 @ 18:12
    Literally, every single word was important. Top quality interview.
  • JR
    Jon R.
    17 January 2018 @ 16:39
    High quality interview, on both sides. Hickey's clearly knowledgeable. The only area I may have pressed him further is when he referenced the high quality companies that "would be of extreme interest to me" on a pullback. 2017 saw virtually no vol, but we've seen plenty in 2014, 2015, 2016, etc. Maybe he was recommending purchases, but for as long as I can recall, he's pretty much recommended gold miners on the long side and not much else. Maybe the pullbacks weren't enough. Still found him to be a very good source of information.
  • TT
    Thomas T.
    15 January 2018 @ 20:53
    Thanks everyone for the kind comments. I was very excited to meet with Fred and we got along very well. He's a genuine nice guy, disciplined, and smart. One of my primary goals for the interview was to find out what companies Fred liked regardless of price. What I discovered was very informative as he said he looks at software over hardware and he threw out a bunch of companies he liked on the long side - of course at the right price. Blackberry, Palo Alto Networks, Microsoft, Google etc and he even thought Twitter would eventually be acquired. I pressed him on his thoughts on Apple and the FANG stocks and his encyclopedia like memory recalled how there were 5 stocks in 1999 had similar attribution. I did the interview as a tech investor (like many of you) who wanted to get the most from a person with his knowledge and experience. His comments on Bitcoin were within two days of the top and on the day of the crazy Long Island Ice Tea Company changing to a block chain business and subsequent spike in the stock from $2-12. If you're a bull or bear on Bitcoin this type of insanity should give you some pause as it perhaps is ahead of itself as a mania. Lastly, I want to personally thank Raoul, Damian, Grant and the many RV people behind the scenes who gave me the opportunity to interview Fred.
    • PC
      Peter C.
      17 January 2018 @ 01:04
      Nice job & like you said getting the long names made a huge difference. Nice interjections without taking over; we hate it when the interviewer thinks it's all about him & his opinion :)
  • PC
    Peter C.
    17 January 2018 @ 00:58
    RVTV needs to get Chamath Palihapitiya on; Fred Hickey's polar opposite. Both are genius'. Chamath is a huge believer in Elon, Bezos,.... and comes from poverty (btw he is a billionaire+ now). Ideally, Chamath would be interviewing Fred :)
  • MB
    Michael B.
    16 January 2018 @ 11:37
    A thoroughly brilliant interview which I enjoyed very much. It brings to mind the old proverb - Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. This guy has seen it all and the young generation needs to learn more of the past to avoid its mistakes.
  • WP
    William P.
    16 January 2018 @ 05:10
    Great interview. Gold and Tesla insights spot on!
  • PB
    Pieter B.
    16 January 2018 @ 02:16
    This is an extremely valuable conversation! Massive thanks!
  • AW
    Agus W.
    15 January 2018 @ 04:19
    Anyone knows how and where to find out more about Fred's newsletter? He is a better trader for his gold calls than most people gives him credit for.
    • LG
      Lance G.
      15 January 2018 @ 20:27
      Fred's newsletter is The High-Tech Strategist. I have been a subscriber for two years, it has been well worth it. PO Box 3133 Nashua NH 03061-3133 603-888-3954 thehightechstrategist@yahoo.com
  • SH
    Spalding H.
    15 January 2018 @ 19:19
    Please have him back if he will. Thanks!
  • SP
    Sat P.
    15 January 2018 @ 13:31
    A great interview from RV, I learnt a hell of a lot. My key take important aways: 1) Gold - I love Harry Dent and agree with a lot of what he says in his books. However, I have never agreed with his view on Gold. In this interview, the comments on Gold Miners reflect much more accurately what I think will happen in a downturn i.e Gold will go up in value and so will the miners. I've never heard of the HUI Gold Miners index, that alone was worth watching this interview for! 2) IT Security and Blackberry - I have been wondering for a while who are the successful companies in IT security and the many names he mentioned along with Palo Alto Networks I'd never heard of and I will do more research on them. Blackberry is the last name I would have thought of and when he mentioned the CEO's background I decided to dig deeper into their offerings and understand which kind of customers they have and the rate of take up. Fantastic insights
  • GD
    Gustavo D.
    15 January 2018 @ 08:42
    Bitcoin insight: Store of value and price volatility is relative. The question to ask in this era of hacking and political influence is: is bitcoin secure from hacks and political influence (political hacks)? What other assets are capable of this? an asset of this type has never existed before.
  • CS
    C S.
    14 January 2018 @ 12:54
    Are we sure when stocks take a dive that gold goes up? Or is it gold goes down less? And I seem to remember gold stocks getting creamed in 2008.
    • CE
      Carol E.
      14 January 2018 @ 23:27
      And gold got creamed in 1987 too. My brilliant idea to hold gold then was a failure.
    • KA
      Kevin A.
      15 January 2018 @ 02:11
      I believe Rhona O'Connell mentioned in ( https://www.realvision.com/rv/channel/realvision/videos/858331d4bcd34f28bf418724e1fac17f ) that the clearing time on gold trades are less thus allowing traders to increase cleared cash faster during low liquidity in order to meet margin requirements.
    • SD
      Stephen D. | Contributor
      15 January 2018 @ 08:31
      You are right Hot M. GDX. a well known Gold Miners ETF was down 26% in 2008. In a liquidity driven sell off everything goes down
  • JV
    Jens V.
    14 January 2018 @ 10:53
    Brilliant. Fully agree with Fred on bitcoin, but looks like many RV viewers don’t :) His previous calls on gold and silver miners have been great, so hoping for a repeat. Very interesting insights on tech. I’m buying put options on Nvidia. That stock is perfectly hyped at the moment.
    • PC
      Peter C.
      15 January 2018 @ 06:40
      Buying put options on Nvidia can get pretty expensive pretty quick? or will you fund through some option selling?
  • TS
    Tim S.
    15 January 2018 @ 05:31
    Even more wisdom accessible the second time viewing.
  • HM
    Hendrik M.
    14 January 2018 @ 19:29
    Excellent interview. I would like to subscribe to his newsletter but can not find the webpage to do so. RV please advise. Thanks HM
    • WT
      William T.
      15 January 2018 @ 03:45
  • DR
    Daniel R.
    15 January 2018 @ 03:33
    Fantastic interview. One of the best. Bring him back again this year.
  • AS
    Alan S.
    14 January 2018 @ 22:02
    It is particularly nice that Mr. Thornton, unlike other hosts, asks his question and then allows time, without interruption, for a response.
  • ek
    eric k.
    14 January 2018 @ 20:56
    What it bitcoin is the new gold?
  • TJ
    Terry J.
    14 January 2018 @ 16:08
    One of the very best intereviews ever! I shall watch this a few more times as Fred has made me seriously reconsider my view of the markets! Top drawer!!
  • AK
    Anthony K.
    14 January 2018 @ 15:54
    Nice Job, Tom! Always enjoy Fred's views
  • CP
    Chris P.
    13 January 2018 @ 02:13
    Wonderful interview. Might have been nice to have access to it-- especially gold commentary-- when actually filmed as the metal has been doing pretty much exactly what he said it would.
    • SB
      S. B.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:42
      That is coincidence, he has been saying this for years. The miners bottomed out in 2015-2016.
  • KS
    Kathleen S.
    14 January 2018 @ 04:22
    Sad, completely ignorant about crypto - I hope real vision followers do their own due diligence. Fred bitcoin has never been hacked --
    • SB
      S. B.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:31
      Certainly not ignorant, but maybe a bit too negative long term.
  • FG
    Fred G.
    14 January 2018 @ 09:46
    "bitcoin is the cherry on top of the everything bubble" "this bitcoin mania is really a very small part of the world" I think Fred is hypocritical re: the cryptoasset space. He did not give any deeper analysis and arrogantly likened it to the dot.com bubble. I would enjoy an interview discussing the secondary economic effects of the rise of crypoassets. Otherwise an interesting interview, thank you.
    • SB
      S. B.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:29
      Yes, he has an almost personal vendetta again crypto. But, I do think he understands it better than you think. The analogy with 2000 internet stocks is spot on. 95% or more of current existing crypto assets will not exist in 5-10 years. There will be many new and better crypto implementations. Even Yahoo, Netscape, Myscape, all had network effect, first mover advantage. And still the true winners came later (Google, Facebook...) I am a reader of his newsletter by the way, and it's really good.
    • SB
      S. B.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:30
      I mean Myspace :-)
  • GF
    George F.
    13 January 2018 @ 22:59
    " There are no short sellers to cover anything anymore. " The ETFs can be shorted and are.
    • SB
      S. B.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:22
      I think what he means is relatively speaking there are very few short sellers. And since everyone else is 'fully' invested there are fewer buyers when there is a 'crash'.
  • RR
    Raj R.
    13 January 2018 @ 20:20
    Wow fascinating stuff!! I heard from a CTO at a big tech company that blockchain is not viable at scale because the transaction costs will be high!
    • FG
      Fred G.
      14 January 2018 @ 10:10
      Currently there is a large push in the space to 'scale' bitcoin (among other cryptoassets) and this is on the verge of release. Transaction costs could possibly be very close to zero in the near future.
  • NZ
    Nicolas Z.
    14 January 2018 @ 02:55
    Very informative, thanks!
  • RM
    Ryan M.
    13 January 2018 @ 22:59
    Love this interview! Pleasantly surprised to get so much history on the gold market from the title of the episode.
  • MW
    Moritz W.
    13 January 2018 @ 21:09
    He truly does not understand Bitcoin. Can this guy please do his research? Everything else is pretty spot on.
  • TB
    Tim B.
    13 January 2018 @ 17:07
    Classic wisdom, deep knowledge. Thanks Fred (from a subscriber).
  • LA
    Linda A.
    13 January 2018 @ 03:13
    A++ Love, love this interview. Fred, u are one of the few sane people in an insane mkt. I admire your honest character, smarts & integrity. I am in the R Pal camp where the dollar will get stronger with repatriation, increased rates etc. so I feel commodities will temporarily head lower then higher. I have never seen a rigged mkt. like this caused by corrupt central banks: Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer. - Julian Casablancas; The man who has won millions at the cost of his conscience is a failure. - B.C. Forbes
    • IP
      IDA P.
      13 January 2018 @ 12:08
      Pal just changed his mind on twitter it seems....
    • AK
      Anthony K.
      13 January 2018 @ 13:53
      Raoul Pal‏ @RaoulGMI · 19h19 hours ago Well, its looks like my premise of a final leg up in the dollar has proven wrong. The US Dollar Broad Index is probably forming a H&S top of some magnitude. In dollar bear markets, you just need to own even more emerging markets...
  • IP
    IDA P.
    13 January 2018 @ 12:10
    Does someone know the link or email to subscribe to Fred Hickey's newsletter? I cannot find it on internet and there is no link on his twitter account.....
    • RL
      Robert L.
      13 January 2018 @ 13:05
  • MB
    Mike B.
    13 January 2018 @ 11:43
    Good interview. Freds conviction is high because he has seen this before but he did not account for the Central Bank influence. He alluded to it but did elaborate. Perhaps this is why he has the Gold
  • BF
    Bret F.
    13 January 2018 @ 11:31
    Buying December FOMC meeting has been money in the Bank for 5 years (wish i could post my chart)
  • IC
    Ibrahim C.
    13 January 2018 @ 09:37
    One of the best interviews I ever watched in RVTV, well done 👏🏻👌🏻
  • PS
    Paul S.
    13 January 2018 @ 07:24
    This market needs more commentators like this who can accept excellent companies are not good investments at stupid valuations Congrats Fred
  • RM
    Robert M.
    12 January 2018 @ 21:10
    Hickey has been bearish and wrong AAPL for at least the last 2 years. And his point about AAPL running up before each gen release and then falling afterwards is sorely confounded by general market movements. There is only one case of about 7 major generations of iphone where his point holds and that is the Sep 12 iphone 5 release.
    • GG
      Glenn G.
      13 January 2018 @ 06:37
      Well Robert, we shall see - he might be on target this time around. Apple's earnings report comes out on February 1st after the market close and I think it will be one of the most interesting quarters in recent memory to see the impact of Apple 8 and X sales and what the future guidance will look like. As an Iphone 6 owner, I am thinking of other options for my next upgrade after experience the almost weekly updates it seems and battery drain it has created - I am sure I am one of many. Get your popcorn and options strategies ready - a 5% move priced into the February 2nd expiration series at the moment. This release has the ability to impact the entire market with this heavily weighted 800 lb gorilla stuffed into all those passive ETFs. I really enjoyed the Fred Hickey interview, great job RV !
  • KE
    Kathryn E.
    13 January 2018 @ 05:02
    Great interview! Keep it up RV, great job
  • JN
    Jill N.
    13 January 2018 @ 03:55
    Brilliant all round , great to see 'longtime' RV favourite Fred again Liked the finale chapter too on gold 👌
  • PC
    Peter C.
    13 January 2018 @ 03:41
    Great insights from Fred. Good to see it wasn't just bearish and negative comments. But bullish on Blackberry and with an adjustment in the valuation bullish on Google, Facebook, Pal Alto. Bring him back soon for follow up.
  • KD
    Ken D.
    12 January 2018 @ 22:11
    Great interview. We need more interviews that focus on individual atocks.
    • PC
      Peter C.
      13 January 2018 @ 03:34
      Specific individual stocks make it more real and actionable
  • SG
    Sherman G.
    13 January 2018 @ 02:52
    Thank you for this interview. I add my compliments for a conversation that is necessary for such a time as this.
  • DG
    Don G.
    13 January 2018 @ 02:34
    Holy crap! This is what what Real Vision is about. This is what I want. It's great. Tom, I subscribe to Hedge fund telemetry, thanks for all the money. Best investment I ever made. Paid for the subscription before I had to pay for it.
  • RM
    Robert M.
    13 January 2018 @ 01:15
    Excellent interview. Enjoy discussions that discuss specific stocks. Probably liked it because I agree with the appraisal on today's market and have also been looking at Blackberry. Good job.
  • FC
    FRED C.
    13 January 2018 @ 00:17
    tommy great job.......
  • FC
    FRED C.
    13 January 2018 @ 00:17
    tommy great job.......
  • DJ
    Dušan J.
    12 January 2018 @ 21:56
  • MM
    Michael M.
    12 January 2018 @ 21:40
    absolutely superb
  • WM
    Will M.
    12 January 2018 @ 20:05
  • GM
    Gerald M.
    12 January 2018 @ 16:37
    Great interview by both participants!
  • MG
    Mohamed G.
    12 January 2018 @ 16:34
    Excellent interview! Exciting to hear of Blackberry’s comeback 👍🏽 go team Canada
  • RM
    Richard M.
    12 January 2018 @ 16:33
    Wow! Fantastic interview Fred - you really covered a lot of interesting ground (tech, crypto, gold, Fed, etc). I gleaned a lot of very good information here and think it will hold me in good stead for 2018 - a lot of directions I can go with my investment money (short semi's, tech, crypto; long gold; and wait for the bottom to get back into tech). As I said, FANTASTIC interview!!! :-)
  • IH
    Iain H.
    12 January 2018 @ 16:19
    Great interview. Thanks you
  • JH
    John H.
    12 January 2018 @ 15:18
  • PU
    Peter U.
    12 January 2018 @ 10:39
    Could be useful if the date this was filmed was included in the description.. .
    • ER
      Eetu R.
      12 January 2018 @ 12:35
      You can find it in the transcript. This was filmed on December 21st 2017.
    • PU
      Peter U.
      12 January 2018 @ 12:45
      Thank you
  • RM
    Russell M.
    12 January 2018 @ 11:41
    Wake up slackers. Its a good one.
  • PU
    Peter U.
    12 January 2018 @ 10:29
    love the consistency on posting the videos early, thank you.