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Chapter 13. Sell, Sell, Sell! > Not a Smart Thing to Do - Pg. 108

Sell, Sell, Sell! 108 Some people say, "If you go with Merrill or Goldman this makes a big difference." But in fact it doesn't make a big difference. For those who believe that Merrill or Goldman are going to support your stock in the aftermarket, you're going to have a rude awakening. You're only important so long as you are the current client. As soon as you are the former client, it just doesn't matter. What was the nature of their questions? Research analysts egg you on to increase your numbers, but they don't tell you to change your model. Did the institutional investors ask the right questions, knowing what you knew about the business and what your worries were? Did they serve their clients well? I think for us, they did. I wonder if that was true for other companies. We went public in 1998, early in the bubble, so there was still a sense that there weren't companies going public every day. It was not a free-for-all at the time we went public. Some people spent a lot of time with us. Bankers were pretty thorough with us. Some invested. Some didn't invest. It was the way I would have imagined it being. People would argue that these mutual fund guys just rubber-stamped a whole bunch of companies and got screwed afterwards. I didn't have that feeling at all. They were doing models on us, research on us. Certainly, at each mutual fund there were some about whom you said, "That guy was a great analyst," and others, "This is just an average analyst." But this kind of inconsistency is going to be in any environment. Is there a fault anywhere among the key players? I would certainly take the financial press and say, "These guys played a much larger role than I bet they believe." This idea of the Fourth Estate was very powerful, as I'm sure you can imagine. For years we had about 10 articles a day coming out on our company. We thought long and hard about PR. It wasn't something we took lightly. We hired some good people. We used the press because we thought it would be cheaper than using cash dollars in marketing. I assign financial press a different blame than just press. Press is under no obligation to be accurate or right, whereas the financial press does have some obligation to its readership to be accurate. We were spared the brunt of this inaccuracy. You saw a huge number of errors in the financial press. As well, you had the financial press