Garrett Van Wagoner finally gives up

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A 1999 headline in Money magazine asked:

He’s Baaack! Garrett Van Wagoner has been a genius, a dolt and a genius. So which is he?

Nine years later, Van Wagoner appears to have finally answered the question. From today’s WSJ:

Van Wagoner Emerging Growth has consistently disappointed investors, giving it a dubious distinction as the worst-performing U.S. actively managed stock fund over the past 10 years.

But at least one thing is changing at the woebegone fund: Longtime manager Garrett Van Wagoner is planning to step down, even though Mr. Van Wagoner, 52 years old, controls the company that sponsors the fund, Van Wagoner Capital Management.

When asked about his best stock pick of the past year, he says, “I don’t know if I have any best picks.”

Van Wagoner was one of the biggest stars of the 1990s tech stock boom. I think the evidence is pretty strong by now that, while an entertaining guy who picked a good time to get into the mutual fund business, he possesses no investing skill whatsoever. Which says something kind of interesting about the mutual fund business.