I hardly knew anyone in Palo Alto in 1984. Desperate for a familiar face, I sought out an old friend who had written sports for the Barnard Bulletin when I was the features editor. She now lived in an apartment building near the Bayshore highway, and worked in a startup sports magazine headquartered in the upstairs offices of the shopping center near my house
“So you were on Wall Street,” she said over lunch. “Explain the stock market to me.”
I thought for a moment. I remembered my economics classes, and the analyst panels I transcribed for The Wall Street Transcript, and what I was picking up by osmosis from the Tramiel clan.
“The stock market is like horse racing,” I said. “Every company that goes public is a horse, and people bet on them.”
“Okay, horse racing I can understand,” she said. She was writing now for a small women’s sports magazine.
“The price of the stock is like the odds. If a company is making money and people think it will do well, more people buy the stock and the share price goes up. The brokerage firms are like the OTB offices. Stock analysts are handicappers, and lots of people write predictions that are like those racing forms you get at the track, some people sell those predictions to brokerage house customers, some write for mutual fund managers.”
I got a letter from her a couple of weeks later “I quit my job and moved to another city to find a better life.”