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Memoirs of a Minyan: The Abyss


The purpose of the journey is the journey itself.

PrintPRINT chose that exact day to open their site for free as we pulled back our curtain. I knew they were watching but I underestimated their agenda.

I reached out to them before launch, offering my content for free as long as it was branded to Minyanville.

Their response essentially was: Go screw yourself -- you're the enemy now. They were ruthless but they weren't dummies. The last thing they were going to do was lead readers directly to me.

I searched and realized they deleted most of my content from the archives. Countless travails from the inner elasticity of the bubble, personal reflections about my grandfather, the tribute I wrote to Bill Meehan, steadying words to investors on how to position for the new world -- all were gone.

Founder Jim Cramer took some of his money out of the Cramer Berkowitz fund where I worked and I could tell he was leaning on my partner, Jeff Berkowitz. It was a tough spot for my good friend and the stress was evident. Imagine working with someone you genuinely love, a person who chose you to facilitate his success only to become a source of stress instead.

It was the middle of December; we were fried after yet another year of battle. Our 2002 results mirrored those of a year earlier, positive gains but well below what we were capable of doing.

And we were miserable, an unpleasant dynamic in any environment but an absolute barrier when battling for performance in the fierce world of finance. If you're not on the same wavelength as the guy next to you in the trenches, you won't shoot straight when performance is in your sights.

Just as Jeff and I communicated without words while trading, we had a similar connection away from the tape. He also endured the pressure of another tough year and was equally aware our relationship was strained. He had Jim on one side, our investors on the other and a staff that relied on us both to put food on their table.

He, like me, wore his heart on his sleeve and I could see it beating a mile away.

Exit Strategy

Our conversation started as any other, with me asking him if we could get off the desk and chat. When we shut the door to his office, there was a silence that spoke volumes about what needed to be said. I don't know how the conversation would have gone if I didn't start it but I imagine the outcome would have been much the same. It was one of the most honest and heartfelt discussions we ever shared.

"This isn't working," I began as we looked into each other's eyes. "I agree," he responded, quicker than I anticipated. As partners, we knew what needed to be done but as friends, we were saddened that it came to that. He knew I was in the throes of building Minyanville and deep down, I knew it wasn't fair to put him in that position.

Writing while trading was a great idea when your partner owned the company and performance was pristine. It was a different dynamic when you're viewed as competition and profits are elusive.

Twenty minutes later, I tendered my resignation. Twenty minutes. After fifteen years of friendship and three years of blood, sweat, tears and laughter, we were going our separate ways.

It was the middle of December -- almost three years to the day after we uncorked bottles at Gramercy Tavern -- and I suddenly had no idea where I was going to hang my hat. That's a problem when you've already spent a million dollars on a Web site predicated on the financial markets.
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