Is it better to own 100% of one thing or one percent of 100 things?


  1. I’ll say 100% of one, because owning so little of so many things makes you care less about each individual item or object.
    But then I’ll say 1% of 100 things, because owning one thing makes you more vulnerable to disruption if you lose it, and you end up with nothing.
    Ahhhh, I’ll sleep on this tonight David :^)

  2. Oooooooooooh interesting one ……… very black and white – with no shades of grey.
    For me it would depend on what that “thing” was – and with whon I had to share ownership with and what those terms of part ownership were.

  3. Nicola!
    Yes, it is black and white — so stop choosing grey!
    This is more a philosophy about life, living, investment and expression than it is about anything specific.

  4. I guess I didn’t think the question through enough like Nicola – I agree with her point about taking into consideration those two factors.
    Sleepy time for me, loving your blog as usual David, don’t ever stop 🙂

  5. I kind of apply it to life – I dont invest my time/energy into things where it will get diluted or lost – I tend to work on small individual projects that are focussed and where it will do most good.

  6. I would probably abstain and choose neither ……………… 🙂
    However if I had to – I would go with the 100% of one thing ……… ( being the control freak that I am) .

    I think I’d pick 100% of one thing as well. All or nothing. Everything in. Total laser focus on one objective and a singular goal.

  8. Cryptic —
    That’s an interesting take on the question! It’s funny how we have the same philosophy of learning but we frame the context of our achievement and curiosity in conclusion.
    Because of my thirst for mastery and knowledge I must know/own 100% of that one thing — so I suppose over my life I’ve owned 100% of 100 things — but I’m changing my own question and trying to have it too many ways so I’ll stick with my original answer: 100%.

  9. I’m going with owing 1% of 100 things.
    I’m in collections, so our money is made not on any one case, but percentages recovered from many cases. It’s a little here and a little there that adds up.
    Stocks are the same way.
    Owing only one company’s stock is dangerous. It’s better to diversify.
    The key is getting the best 100 things to have a slice of.

  10. Interesting take on the question, Dave. If you only own 1% you’re never really on the hook for anything. You’d never be a majority owner. You’d always be silent and ignored. Having the whole is more appealing, to me at least, for the reasons you list.

  11. Chris —
    It’s wild that “own” translates for you into “finance.” I can think of lots of things you can own that don’t have a direct financial outcome.
    I can see the cautiousness and prudence of spreading out the risk over a wide area to lessen the chances of one cruel thing ruining 100% of your hard work.

  12. Sounds like NetJets, Dave:

    Buy as much as you need. NetJets fractional shares start at $406,250 for a 1/16 interest (the equivalent of 50 hours of annual flying time) in a Hawker 400XP. Your monthly management and hourly fees cover nearly everything. If you need fewer hours, you can still fly on NetJets with the Marquis Jet Card which is sold in single-year, 25-hour increments.
    Warren Buffett’s company bought NetJets:

    Telegraph: You have a reputation for parsimony and have often been critical of corporate excess. Isn’t Berkshire Hathaway’s NetJets private-jet business the sort of thing favoured by the kind of companies that in other times you would have been critical of?
    Warren Buffett: It probably is just the reverse. NetJets represents by far the most economical way for a great many companies to utilise business aircraft because they are only paying for what they use. We are seeing companies that have quite elaborate flight operations change over to a NetJets arrangement and in the process save millions of dollars. My licence plate – my daughter bought it for me – says THRIFTY. So I think my reputation is well earned in that respect.

  13. Hi David,
    Owing 1% of 100 quality things is easier to obtain for most people than owing 100% of one thing.
    In some ways, that makes it attractive because the cost of buying into something is less than paying the full 100%.
    It would be interesting to compare owing 1% of a certain set of items, as opposed to owning 100% of one item in the same class.
    Would the sum of 1% x 100 be greater than the singular 100%?

  14. Sounds like a good plan for your friend, Dave.
    I know a lot of people who buy time-shares and have a miserable experience. They can’t sell their shares when they feel they don’t get their money’s worth and want out. Once they’re were in, they had recurring maintenance fees that never go down — they always go up and if you go in on buying a share with other friends to make it more affordable you can’t sell your share of that share without the agreement of the others who pooled to buy that share.

  15. Chris!
    You’re better at math than me. So let’s test your theory.
    Let’s say Bill Gates owns 100% of Microsoft.
    Then take the top 100 publicly listed software companies — Microsoft not included — and purchase 1% of each of those companies and add up the net worth!
    You can use Friday’s closing stock price to make your calculations!

  16. I wonder if there’s a website out there that will do that calculation?
    I’ll see if there’s some easy way to do that calculation.
    Owing the 1% only works if you can get 1% items that are more than the value of the total 100% item and it didn’t matter if you had total control over them.

  17. Hi David,
    I did the math — remember I’m not that great at math, so there might be errors. 😉
    Owing 1% of something might work out if your 100% item was outside of the class, i.e. owning 1% of the Forbes Top 10 would be worth more than owing 100% interest in a $1 million home.
    If the items are in the same class, then the math doesn’t work in favor of owning just 1%.
    I ran the figures for the Forbes Top 10 companies in 2003.
    Their total market value was $1,450,785 million.
    One percent of that figure equals $14,507.85 million.
    The top 2003 company, according to Forbes’ list is GE, which has a market value of $242,835 million. The 2003 number 10 company, Altria, is valued at $73,063 million.
    Owning 100% of any company on the list is worth more than owning just 1% of all on the list.

  18. Here’s an interesting article about time shares written by an economist.

    “I don’t believe you’re really an economist,” snarled the time share salesman for Spinnaker Resort of Hilton Head Island, S.C., as my family and I left without buying. Having just drawn for us a trash can to illustrate where our vacation rental payments were going, he no doubt felt deserving of the Nobel Prize.
    Meanwhile, I had determined that the deal was a loser, based on his figures and an economic formula for the profitability of buying vs. renting.

  19. Thanks for that excellent article, Chris! I enjoyed this part:

    Isn’t it always better to buy than to rent? After all, if you buy, you “own” something, while if you rent, you do not. Well, if you have to pay $500,000 to buy something, and you could rent it for a nickel a year, would you still buy it? No. In fact, the decision to rent or buy depends on prices, rents, and other factors that go into the profitability formula.

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