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James Altucher, Wall Street's Keeper of the Pain

James Altucher has made and lost fortunes. Now he blogs about it

Shaggy-haired, bespectacled James Altucher is a 43-year-old venture capitalist who puts money into tech startups such as Buddy Media—last valued at $500 million. He has also designed websites, worked as a financial columnist, and run a fund that invested in hedge funds. Along the way, he lost his savings and his marriage, and by his own admission suffered several nervous breakdowns.

Now Altucher has turned his misfortune into a source of wisdom and comfort for the despondent. He shares his insecurities and psychic traumas with 30,000 Twitter followers and on his blog, the Altucher Confidential, which he says has had 10 million page views since he launched it a year ago. His self-published book, I Was Blind But Now I See, has ranked as high as No. 2 this year in’s motivational books category, and he’s publishing a comic book about his life. “I think the role James fulfills in the post-crash world is beacon of hope,” says Joshua Brown, a financial adviser who blogs as the Reformed Broker. “I know it sounds corny, but no one has been more forthcoming about how the torn economic fabric of this country has affected him personally. The message is always centered around him still being here—that there’s life after financial near-death.”