Highly regarded Wall Street analyst Gene Munster, who was an early believer in Apple, is leaving Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray to focus on what he sees as the next frontier in technology.
The veteran analyst, who spent 21 years at Piper Jaffray, will depart at the end of the month to start a venture capital firm called Loup Ventures with two other associates.
“It’s a research-driven early stage venture capital firm based in Minneapolis,” he said in an e-mail. “Our investment focus is virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robotics. We’re also excited to be a part of the growing (Minneapolis) venture community.”
His partners are Andrew Murphy, a former Piper Jaffray employee who most recently worked at St. Paul-based Ecolab, and Doug Clinton, who worked with Munster at Piper Jaffray.
A University of St. Thomas graduate, Munster covered a number of tech companies such as Google, Amazon and Yahoo.
But he was most well regarded, and was frequently quoted in the financial press, for his thoughts on Apple. He first rose to high-tech analyst fame in 2004 when he recommended Apple’s stock and steeply raised his target price as iPod sales began to explode. He has often quite bullish on its stock since then — and was often, though not always, right.
He was also well known for his firm conviction for years that Apple was working on a television whose release was imminent. After the Wall Street Journal published a report last year saying the company had given up the project, he sent out a report to investors owning up to his mistake.
He said then — in a May 2015 interview with the Star Tribune — that he was spending much of his time trying to understand developments in augmented reality. While it seemed too futuristic to some, he said it’s not unlike how people just a decade or two ago didn’t understand how big the internet and smartphones would be today.
“Ten years from now, I think we’re going to look back and say we didn’t realize how connected everything in our life would be,” he said.