Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD Mutual Fund Gives Online Investors a Say

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD Mutual Fund Gives Online Investors a Say

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Wall Street professionals generally dismiss amateur online stock pickers as an unavoidable upshot of the Internet revolution.

Michael Witz, the 28-year-old founder and chief executive of an innovative mutual fund Web site called, sees the cacophony and chaos of the online investment world in a different light, however. runs the only mutual fund whose stock portfolio is determined entirely by amateur investors.

"While there is a lot of clutter on the Internet, there are also a lot of diamonds, and I felt this resource wasn't being properly recognized," Witz said in telephone interview from his office in Los Angeles.

Anyone can log on to's Web site and submit their picks for inclusion in the site's flagship product, the Community Intelligence Fund.

Obviously, not all of the stocks submitted are selected for investments. And, similar to a traditional mutual fund, all final investment decisions are made by a professional fund manager.

But the stocks included in the fund are all selected from picks contributed by amateurs.

"What we've seen in a few short months is that the hypothesis that a community could run a mutual fund is true," Witz said.

Witz, whose background includes stints as a financial analyst and a Web designer, has coined the term "naked funds" to describe his investment philosophy. The idea is that the entire process of investing in a mutual fund can be open to both participation and unfettered scrutiny by the shareholders.

Mutual funds have traditionally been a decidedly passive method of investing. Witz feels the Internet is the perfect engine for changing that tradition.

"We're pulling back the curtain on how a mutual fund works," Witz said.

The fund, which currently has about $500,000 in assets, has risen 41 percent since it was launched Nov. 18.

While dismissed by many critics as a gimmick, some professional investors can't help but admire the innovative concept.

"Opening up the architecture of mutual funds is an innovative and interesting idea. …

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