Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Why now is a good time to invest in mobile start-ups

Global financial crunch...government bailout...fiscal tightening...all these words will be very familiar to everyone following the unfolding of financial events on both sides of the atlantic. The picture for stock holders and bond holders, from private investors to pension plan owners, is not pretty.

That small proportion of wealthy individuals around the world are faced with some stark choices for making the most of their capital...look to preserve it by adopting a risk-averse approach (and buy gold bullion) or sit on their cash and ride out the storm, wary of potential bank collapses.

Neither of these two options offer the true capitalist a decent return. But, as always, there is money to be made in times of crises and parts of the economy that will fare better than others. The mobile sector is by no means immune to the downturn, and while operator revenues are likely to stay flat (guarded by inelastic demand), other parts will grow.

Mobile web is at an inflection point in terms of its global growth, moving from niche to mainstream, from Mobile 1.0 to Mobile 2.0, and there will be a number of competent start-ups that, though small today, will be huge tomorrow.

The great news is that the relative risk of investing in these start-ups has decreased compared to a year ago, given the drastically reduced equity returns from quoted companies. In addition, many of these quoted companies have either cut or withdrawn their dividend, and so look and feel more like growth stocks.

Fancy a flutter on an equity investment? My advice is, look at the opportunities out there to fund a mobile web start-up: it will be not much riskier than a blue-chip investment, will certainly be more fun to follow and, you never know, could be your next mobile equivalent of Facebook.