Suppose someone gets a time machine, somehow, and decides to make some extra cash the usual way. S/he goes back in time to 1997 and tells his/her Past Self about Google.
Under the following assumptions, what mistakes could Past Self make that would prevent him/her from getting rich based on this knowledge?
- Self does not have any background in finance or technology.
- The time machine will only work for one round trip, and Future Self makes it safely.
- Self is pretty lazy; s/he prepares for his/her trip for at most an hour, and doesn't bother with other companies or facts that could get him/her rich.
- Future Self can bring and leave whatever physical item s/he wants back in time as long as s/he thinks it can be used in the past. Pen and paper is fine. CDs are fine, too, but I hope Future Self remembers to ensure that Past Self can actually read them.
- Past Self trusts Future Self and his/her story, and acts upon the information they just received.
- Past Self and his/her most trusted friends and family can keep a secret; as far as the rest of the world is concerned, Past Self just made a really lucky investment.
- The only thing that matters is that Past Self fails to get rich by volition of their own mistakes (or Future Self's half-assed preparation). Other unforeseen consequences can result.
- This means that it's okay if Past Self inadvertently goes broke, hinders Google's growth, or even dies. S/he just can't get rich.
- Once Past Self has the money (if you want a number, let's say at least $100 million), they're considered rich. If they make stupid decisions and lose it all afterwards, that's a separate problem.
This question relies on the assumption that financial laws are complicated and that getting rich off of a startup isn't as simple as giving it a suitcase of cash and asking for more later.