By Jim Bleyer
There is no shortage of Tampa Bay media lackeys that gladly genuflect for Jeff “Transit Tax” Vinik.
“Vinik to relaunch asset management firm: ‘The fire still burns in my belly” bleated the headline dutifully penned by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
This would be far more accurate: “A hole still burns through my wallet.”
The last thing in the world that developer, sports team owner, and public treasury raider Vinik wants is to return to the grind and onus of running a hedge fund. His last two attempts failed miserably.
As we’ve reported previously, Tampa’s infamous (Under) Water Street development is in deep trouble as bankrollers of the Channelside project are more nervous than ever about its eventual success.
Underwater Street, the brainchild of New Jersey-New York-Boston con artist Vinik has consistently missed its projected deadlines.
It was originally conceived as a health-oriented development because Vinik’is fellow grifters, former University of South Florida president Judy Genshaft and one percenter Frank Morsani, agreed to have USF’s Morsani College of Medicine anchor the fledgling project.
It received another financial boost from the state after Vinik threw 200K into then-Gov. Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work PAC.
But Underwater Street has been a tough sell ever since.
So much so, that Vinik, the would-be real estate mogul, is going back to his “roots,” peddling hedge funds.
Vinik’s views on investments provide an insight into how out of touch he is on the current global and U.S. economy. And his timing could not be worse as a consensus of internationally-acclaimed financial gurus sees a worldwide recession in the next two years.
Dismissive of cannabis-related securities, Vinik described such investments as overrated and likely to suffer from squeezed margins. Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box on January 10, Vinik also asserted that bitcoin currently accounts for “zero percent” of his investment portfolio.
He might want to educate himself before accepting millions of simoleons from suckers whose memories flash to the go-go eighties when a blindfolded monkey could throw darts at the Wall Street Journal listings and emerge a winner.
Many cannibis companies are viable entities that make profits for their investors. Those that are publicly traded have proven themselves to be survivors in what used to be akin to a Wild, Wild West industry.
Here’s Vinik and his obsolete thinking: “My guess is that they’re ( pot plays) overhyped. There’s going to be too much competition, margins are going to come down, [and] nobody’s going to make money.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. I’d be happy to give him a tour of a pot farm so he can see the operation first hand and have any questions answered by real experts.
Then there are his antiquated views on cryptocurrency. Just about every major investment firm, including Goldman Sachs, has a “crypto desk.” Vinik may want to learn about the blockchain, its potential for profit and limitations. A shrewd, knowledgable investor can collect profits navigating the cryptocurrency minefield.
Investors in any Vinik-led fund will need more than a fistful of dollars. They’ll need a lot of luck.