StockJungle.com closed its last mutual fund product today, liquidating assets and informing shareholders via email of its decision. The fund had approximately 500 shareholders with $1.6 million in assets under management.
The end of the firms last remaining fund is not, however, the end for StockJungle.
"Were just realigning the business," explained Michael Witz, the companys founder and CEO. "Were deciding to pick one battle and just focus on that battle. After we get through these things well be a very focused company thats in a good position to create a new research product."
Witz declined to discuss the details of upcoming transactions but did say that the fund liquidation is related to an announcement the firm hopes to make in the near future.
"When we started this, we always had a big goal: we wanted to transform the mutual fund industry. We came in to fundamentally alter the relationship of investors and their money,' said Witz. He wryly added, 'That was our goal and we didn't achieve it."
The closure is partly the result of poor decisions on the part of executives in a declining market, he said.
"If anybody asked me for advice, Id say dont launch a mutual fund when the NASDAQ is going to have its worst performing year in history," Witz said. "But I dont think its as black or white as that. I think we made some mistakes, unrelated to the market."
For example, Witz cited a misunderstanding of mutual fund distribution. "Mutual funds are sold, not bought. Coming from that framework, I would have looked from that perspective rather than as the consumer whose money gets put in the mutual fund," he said.
The company hired a veteran with institutional rather than retail fund experience; that decision, said Witz, is "a key factor thats influenced the path of this business."
While still committed to the principles of investor education, Witz now looks at his business model and its application to the fund industry differently.
"At StockJungle, we opened up fund management and said, this is what were doing. Its not rocket science, and in a sense, we took some of the mystique out of it. In reality, I think people like the mystique," said Witz. "Heres my money manager that has this knowledge, talent and ability that I dont have. I think thats a big appeal to mutual fund investors."