I have written about social investing in the past and the trend is certainly becoming very popular as investors try to do their part in making the world a better place. I certainly consider it as part of my investment process and would generally prefer investing in local/green/fair companies. It is however only one thing that I look at and for the moment I can admit that I have never excluded a company entirely or at least for most I can see how I could consider them at some point if changes were made.
Comes in AshleyMadison.com
If you have never heard of this website, it might not be very long before you see some mainstream advertisements for this website. What is the company? It is a dating website for married adults seeking adventure. So yes, a company whose whole purpose is to help individuals deceive their spouses and potentially end a marriage that worked perfectly well.
Some industries such as the tobacco industry are certainly very much debated but few come close to being as controversial and morally questionable as AshleyMadison. The company is not listed on any exchanges yet and after reading a recent piece in BusinessWeek, it’s not clear when or if they will succeed in doing so.
My point of view is generally that legal businesses should be able to operate and individuals and businesses should then determine if they want to do business with a company like AshleyMadison. The company was recently denied a spot in the Super Bowl ads and I’m not sure you could blame Fox for avoiding being associated with AshleyMadison, it could have turned into a disaster.
What if it turns into a great investment opportunity?
If you were offered being to buy shares of the web company at a great price, would you jump in? Personally, I did think about it and concluded that I couldn’t. For me, wedding is a critical value. Sure I understand that those using AshleyMadison might have been using other ways prior to that, that they are never forced and are making their own decisions, it is still a line I would not personally cross. Why? Because if AshleyMadison helped in any way to break the wedding of a friend, a family member or even my own, I would be ashamed of being associated and even making money off of it.
It might be a great business opportunity but it’s not one I could sleep well at night taking advantage of.
That being said, I’m the first one to admit that it’s very difficult to draw such a line and it’s not necessarily logical to stay away from AshleyMadison while being ok with an investment in a tobacco company, one that had issues with child labor or that is destroying the environment.