The Chocolate Chip Cookie Company

Nearly a decade ago, I met an investor while I was in Boston who was trying to explain to me how some very rich people like to invest. This is many years before I become interested in investing myself. He called it “The Chocolate Chip Cookie Company” syndrome. He said that when rich people socialized with their friends, they’d like to name-drop companies they’re an investor in. “Oh yeah, we own a piece of that company.” Cheers!

He’d often refer to this investor psychology when he was trying to sell. “Chocolate Chip Cookie Company” he’d whisper and nod to himself. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t know this world he spoke of, or the world he operated in.

Now, I think I have a better understanding of this investor psychology. In this world, think of chocolate chip cookies as a hot tech sector. Today. that is likely bots, or chatbots, or bot platforms, or bots with AI, or, really, any type of bot-cookie you can think of — the kitchen sink cookie.

Part of the psychology is to be able to prove ownership in something. Part of it is to make sure part of one’s portfolio is covered or has the right exposure — “gotta have a play in chocolate chip cookies, right?” No portfolio would be complete without it.

Today’s tech startup obsession du jour is… bots.

I gotta have a bot company.” But I am 99% sure no one knows where this is all going, and instead of harnessing an open web or relatively open iOS platform, it’s not yet clear if the big mobile messaging clients like Messenger, WeChat, Whatsapp, etc. will allow or permit a new service to take off on the back of its own property. But the category is interesting enough and barriers to entry are quite low, so investors (who don’t want to miss out) are piling into new startups, creating ad hoc funds, flooding to incubators, temporary funds, and even starting to invest at the institutional Series A level.

What do you think of bots?

Huge. I’ve got a bot play in my portfolio.”

Cool. Me, too.” (sips bourbon)

We all will, and it will take many months, if not years, to figure out who picked the right chocolate chips.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2017 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus