End of the World in 2012? Here's How to Make a Profit
Senior Editor, CNBC
Talk about the world coming to an end on 12/21/12 raises a question that some say could be one reason for the globe's future demise: Is there a way to make a profit from the coming doomsday scenario?
Woe betide those who do, says Peter Bianchi, CEO of Innovative Beverage and a believer in the Apocalypse 2012 prediction.
He says he's believes in the coming end-times because "a lot of intelligent people do."
But he intends to survive, expecting the world will not completely disappear. "I've made my survival plans," says Bianchi, whose Houston, Texas-based firm distributes non-alcoholic drinks, including one called 'drank'. He just wants everyone to enjoy his product with "what time is left."
"Companies that try to take advantage of the situation are despicable," argues Bianchi. "It's playing into people's fears. How are you going to have profits if the world ends? It's not going to happen."
Former investment banker Terry Connelly has some advice: "I would short futures," he says in a deadpan tone. "I'm kidding of course. Betting on this phenomena is supercilious," says Connelly who is dean of the Ageno School of Business at Golden Gate University. "Who's going to be around to collect?"
So don't expect a firm like Goldman Sachs to be trading into the end of days, says Connelly. "Wall Street looks at this as an attention reliever," he explains. "It's more like an amusment than a market discipline."
But that's not stopping entrepreneurs and investors from thinking dollars and cents when the world may be gone in 18 months.
"I don't believe in the end of the world prophecy for 2012, but I know a lot of people do," says Kishan Agarwal, CEO of MelroseJewelers.com, an online luxury goods retailer. "That's why we're selling this special Rolex edition watch for $14,225."
Called "Time May Be Running Out" (pun intended) the watch is specifically geared toward those people who live every minute to the fullest, according to the 34-year-old Agarwal, a former equity analyst for Dalton Investments in Los Angeles, California.
"A friend of mine is a hedge fund manager and he's consumed by this prophecy, and the watch is an inspiration from his ideas," Agarwal says
So far, Agarwal says he's sold 25 watches, for revenues of $80,000. "We make about $850 a watch," he says.
As for future sales—there's still plenty of time.
"We think people will love it. The main idea is to offer people who truly believe in the prophecy the chance to celebrate every minute they have left," Agarwal explains. "We're not offering any other products for the Armageddon but this one. It's simply an idea we had and thought worth trying."
Other entrepreneurs will be jumping on the end of the world bandwagon says, Adam Hanft, CEO of Hanft Projects, a branding and culture advising firm.
"I don't think it will be the bigger firms — they are afraid of it," Hanft says. "But you'll see the do-it-yourself types making and selling coffee mugs, T-shirts, and hats that all say something like 'End of the World, Ma'.
Hanft expects internet sites to be all over the phenomenon as well.