Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Businesses The Almighty Buck

Web 2.0 Bubble May Be Worst Burst Yet 417

Posted by Zonk
from the not-the-bubble dept.
athloi writes with a link to an editorial by John Dvorak over at the PC Magazine site. Rather than his usual tilting at windmills, Dvorak turns his attention to possibility of another big internet economy 'pop': "Every single person working in the media today who experienced the dot-com bubble in 1999 to 2000 believes that we are going through the exact same process and can expect the exact same results — a bust. It's déjà vu all over again. Each succeeding bubble has been worse than its predecessor. Thus nobody is actually able to spot the cycle, since it just looks like a continuum. I can assure you that after this next collapse, nobody will think of the dot-com bubble as anything other than a prelude." It certainly seems like another burst is imminent; will this one be worse than the original, or have less of an impact?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Web 2.0 Bubble May Be Worst Burst Yet

Comments Filter:
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:21PM (#20075899) Journal
    Dvorak is crying that the sky is falling; so, based on his track record, everything must be just peachy then.

    Good.

    Simon.
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:27PM (#20076025)
      He's a clueless idiot who just trolls for page hits.
      From TFA:

      We saw all sorts of bubbles before the dot-com one. For instance, there was the CD-ROM bubble. Remember all the CD-ROM companies? Bill Gates's "Information at Your Fingertips" was the watchword. Microsoft itself started a unique division called Microsoft Home. The whole scene collapsed almost overnight.

      Yeah, I keep my music CD's and software CD's in the same box as my Pets.com stock.

      He's an idiot, paid by the page hit.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:37PM (#20076173)

        He's an idiot, paid by the page hit.


        Zonk?
      • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:48PM (#20076331)

        He's an idiot, paid by the page hit
        And yet people on Slashdot still quote his articles.
        • by sammy baby (14909) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:18PM (#20081045) Journal

          And yet people on Slashdot still quote his articles.


          True, but be fair: the vast majority of Slashdotters aren't gonna read the article. So, no extra ad revenue for him!

          (In Slashdot's defense: reading the article would be counterproductive.)
      • by wootest (694923) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:52PM (#20076395)
        By CD-ROM, I think he means the "interactive", "multimedia" "games"/apps/"experiences" of the mid-90s, hailed by certain powers-that-be as the things that would get us to run out and buy CD-ROM drives in droves. The full screen genre preludes to Flash (in fact, a great deal were made with Shockwave) that never were useful.

        I can't say whether it was a bubble or not, but I know I'm glad no one, except for perhaps some cell phone/PDA software autorun presentations, still uphold that particular art form. With this in mind, he's not all full of crap.

        As for the industry going towards more or fewer bubbles, I have no idea. On one hand, the industry is stabilizing and maturing (if by "maturing" you mean "big companies can upsell other big companies on ridiculous systems no one needs") so more and more jobs are guaranteed. On the other hand, there's still technical evolution and still wrong-headed venture capital, so there will always be costly software projects that fail (and software projects *do fail*, more than half of them, regularly). On the gripping hand, there are people who know way more about this industry than I do and even they can't say which way it'll go.
        • by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @04:13PM (#20077695) Journal
          To give those who may not remember a bit more of an idea of what the "CDROM bubble" was like (not that I think that's really a good name for it), in the mid nineties, "CDROM games" were their own category in stores -- you had action games, strategy games, puzzle games, and CDROM games. As if the media a game shipped on somehow defined it.

          CDROM encyclopedias were all the rage -- Encarta was a household name for maybe 5 years.

          "Mutlimedia" was the buzzword of the period. Genearlly, it meant adding (relatively) high-res images and video clips to products that may or may not have really needed them.

          In short, having your application on CD was a end in and of itself, for a few years.

          Wide availability of home broadband (wikipedia replaced Encarta) and falling prices of CDs and CD drives killed the "bubble", as CD was increasingly treated as what it really was -- just another medium for storing data.
          • by gaspyy (514539) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @12:24AM (#20081823)
            I remember the time - but I fail to see the bubble.

            It was the time CDs became popular and allowed for more content and interaction, in fact it was the only way to get rich content.

            Take Encarta and other encyclopedias. They were the only alternatives to paper-based materials and with animations and video, they were really nice learing tools. Games started to add voice - I recall King's Quest V being the first adventure game I've played that had hi-res graphics and voice. How's that bad?

            Sure, all those multimedia CDs have morphed into online content, but the CD-ROM period was a stage in evolution, not a hyper-inflated bubble.

            It's like saying that radio was a bubble because TV came next.

            In contrast, the dot-com bubble was like "attract venture capital to build a site that sells anything from confetti to pets online, don't worry about drafting a business plan, spend big on offices and fancy cars, then sell everything at a loss and go bankrupt." When the bubble was over, we were all back to square 1.
        • by p7 (245321) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @04:52PM (#20078177)
          He is completely clueless. The dot com bubble has very little to do with markets disappearing or businesses failing. The bubble was all about people that would blindly invest in internet stocks and businesses. After awhile when the overvalued internet companies started to fail, and all that stock was worthless, it caused an impact on the economy. CDROM based interactive multimedia didn't do that, they never had the investment that the dot coms did. I believe currently people are more wary of investing in unproven web businesses and you really need to have an environment where people will blindly invest in companies that think they are going to make money shipping 50 pound bags of dog food to the people. The current bubble that might hurt is the mortgage fiasco that is currently playing out right now.
          • by wootest (694923) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @05:33PM (#20078645)
            Nothing truly useful about the web went down in flames with the dot-com bust, it was all based on the fact that people wanted to shoe-horn the rules of their existing media into web content. Or they thought that their crackpot business plans would finally gain acceptance and work simply because it now included running a web site, and web sites were hot, new and cool. There's some deep zen shit behind the 1) Collect underpants; 2) ???; 3) Profit!!! parallel from South Park. Sometimes what's new and dazzling makes people go completely blind with regards to what's a rational idea or not. If Dvorak's point that this cycle will repeat itself over and over againhas some validity, it's that the CD-ROM multimedia iteration was reasonably similar in structure. First an idea, then it growing, then it being adopted by lots of people, and then finally it being abandoned because their implementation of the idea just wasn't that good. It just didn't end that bad since it had mostly fizzled out by 1997, before computers rose to real ubiquity with well-entrenched, high-bandwidth Internet connections. And the precursors and survivors of the multimedia boom are the adventure games (especially the Myst/Riven end) and the Flash animations, just as the useful web sites and applications are what was before and came out of the bubble.
            • by p7 (245321) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @07:43PM (#20079923)
              My point is that the CDROM multimedia bubble, wasn't a bubble. Nobody was investing in these business to the level that it would have caused an large economic impact. The bubble phenomenon is when we ignore the value or can't correctly value the business and we continue to invest in it, as you mentioned and eventually someone is going to get come to their senses and cause a selling frenzy (The pop of the bubble). I didn't read TFA, because I do believe that most of his commentary is designed spread FUD and bring views to his column. That being said I belive the CDROM bubble he evidently mentioned is likely similar to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_crash_of_1 983 [wikipedia.org]. Since there wasn't widespread speculation in these markets there was no bubble to pop. There is a cycle, but it happens alot and doesn't have the impact of a bubble. The big bubbles to pop in the 20th century was dot com bust and the stock market crash in the twenties and Dvorak implies that this Web 2.0 will be at least worse than the dot com bust which I find hard to swallow.
          • by bob frost (850405) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:36PM (#20080775) Homepage
            You are 100% correct. What usually causes a bubble is the BS pedaled by those puffed-up MBA "stock analysts." Think of housing: analysts kept hyping financially-thin high-risk lenders b/c the returns were SO fat, even if it couldn't last.

            An even more disturbing example is how we got investors to build the Internet fiber backbone for us... Think on this. Companies like Level 3, PSINet, GlbalCrossing, etc were darlings of Wall St analysts b/c they were (in the 90s) the "next big thing." Assuming (correctly) that the Net was THE FUTURE, Wall St boneheads seemed to assume that anyone building infrastructure for it would make off with billions.

            What those dummies neglected to notice is that the fiber backbone had such huge capacity that it was way easy, almost inevitable, to "overbuild" in the sense that with virtually unlimited carrying capacity, the backbone owners/installers couldn't charge enough to cover their vast capital expenditures. (Remember, this was at the moment when Enron thought that they could develop a futures market in broadband---which turned out to be much like a futures market in seawater). The fiber-pullers in fact had no credible long-term business model beyond Wall St loving them. Once it became clear that there was no credible fat revenue stream for them, they went under, and the successor firms who bought those assets got them at a price that realistically reflected the revenue potential of the fiber. Long story short, as a nation the US got its fiber backbone on the cheap, thanks to gullible investors listening to the hype of the financial analysts. Thanks!

            On the downside, those same analysts are apparently now convinced that 1. firing employees is always a good thing for a firm, even if it undermines the comapny's knowledge capital and skill base, and 2. any investment that can't be amortized in a year or less should be avoided, as should any firm that makes such investments. They are setting us up for long-term economic dry-rot, but hey, it keeps the rich happy, provided they can always find the "next big thing (©)," sufficiently hyped by the boys in suits.

            So yeah, Web 2.0 might be a *financial* bubble, but like the tech boom of the 1990s, there's some very solid stuff there, and once the smoke clears and the greedy have either gotten cooked or rich, we'll just keep innovating, albeit for different employers if we're in the private sector. Wouldn't it be nice if our economy weren't held hostage by the analysts and their greedy clients? Maybe we could then live in economic security amidst innovation.
      • Wasn't the CD-ROM bubble artificially propped up by AOL for a number of years?
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Sure, but AOL aren't really the good guys: the economic damage they did to the coaster industry was enough to send the world's stock markets into meltdown for years!

    • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:33PM (#20076099) Homepage Journal

      Companies come and companies go. It's a fact of life. It doesn't make them going out of business a bubble bursting.

      Dvorak talks about a "CD-ROM bubble." Now, I've been around for a while, and I thought I would remember any major deflation of a market such as what happened in the dot-com bubble, but what the hell is he talking about? Ditto pad computing, I must have missed all the hype about that. I do remember word processor "wars," so to speak, but even that is questionable. As far as I recall, WordPerfect led the market for years and years, then Microsoft Word came along and cleaned its clock. Yes, there were some minor players, but seriously, when they went out of business over the years, was it really a bubble bursting? Was there really a PC clone bubble that burst? I remember two-inch thick Computer Shopper magazines with dozens and dozens of company, and over the course of time they all were either bought up or folded, but was it really a bubble bursting?

      The thing that made the dot-com bubble unique was that it affected damn near every corner of the industry, even industries that had hardly anything to do with dot-coms, and seemingly all at the same time, around 2000 to 2002. Most of Dvorak's other examples were companies coming and going as they always have and always will.

      As for the future, it's hard to say. There will undoubtedly be market normalization for companies that are overpriced right now, but I seriously doubt that so many people are going to be affected all at once like they were in that 2000 to 2002 timeframe.

      In other words, companies will come, and companies will go. It's not major crisis, and no reason to panic.

      • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:46PM (#20076301) Journal
        The thing that made the dot-com bubble unique was that it affected damn near every corner of the industry...

        Also, unprofitable CD-ROM startups never had their stocks traded heavily by greedy, clueless retail investors. Developers lost their jobs and institutional investors lost their money but it didn't affect the general public the way the collapse of pets.com or eToys did.

        Since investors have (temporarily) learned their lesson, the eventual shakeout 2.0 isn't going to affect anyone outside the industry.

      • by fistfullast33l (819270) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:53PM (#20076407) Homepage Journal
        I agree with most of what you said. It seems as though Dvorak is mistaking the dot com bubble with the market trends that occurred around the same time. Take CDRoms and the WWW explosion - both resulted in rushes to put anything you could on that medium. Cookbooks, encyclopedias, maps - they all ended up rushing towards whatever medium was the hot topic of the moment. I seem to remember the movie Disclosure having some premise regarding a CDROM virtual world or whatever - it didn't make sense.

        The dotcom bust was more about the money being invested - usually poorly. All this money was coming in and nothing was getting produced. Anyone with an idea was given cash. It was tightly linked to the WWW rush, but it wasn't exactly the same. We still have that WWW rush as we see more and more services move to the web and the first adopters start to mature - see Wikipedia and Google Maps as second generation web services versus movie rentals like Netflicks, which are a relatively new experiment. The money, on the other hand, is there but everyone is considerably more controlled about their investments. Pets.com wouldn't get investors today without a solid business model or more likely a working implementation first. This is why Google succeeded as an IPO - they were already dominating search and web advertising. Ditto MySpace being bought out and Facebook talking about going either way.

        I don't see a bubble per se - I just see smarter investing and wiser hiring practices. That was the second symptom of the bubble in 2000-2002 - people with little or no experience were hired for jobs that required some level of training. There's no way you can land a job at a company now without the proper education. Even outsourcing has cooled down, outside of the politically advantaged hype that the press tend to give it. Does anyone really care that you can't have a career in a call center anymore?

        Just my $0.02
      • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:07PM (#20076643) Homepage

        The thing that made the dot-com bubble unique was that it affected damn near every corner of the industry

        It was insane. Unsustainable valuations that reminded me more of tulip bulb trading. Companies with absolutely no background in tech were opening up IT consulting branches. Yes, I'm looking at you KPM&G.

        If anything what we're currently experiencing is a correction from an industry that was over-sold in the wake of the dot-com collapse in 2000 and then the outsourcing insanity that followed after. That was a double whammy that dried up the pipeline of IT students in college almost overnight.

        It doesn't feel like tulip bulb trading this time. This is a correction and we're still playing catch up.

        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @04:11PM (#20077661)
          As parent says, dot.bomb was not a technical failure. It was caused by gross business failure, linked to two major effects. This could have happened within almost any industry, but IT was the darling at the time.

          Internet stock trading was suddenly made a lot easier which flooded the (previously relatively stable) stock market with a bunch of very inexperienced and irrational traders. They drove volatility and demand. Suddenly a stay-at-home mom could generate thousands a day by logging in a few times a day.

          The venture capitalists supply these markets too and recognised a feeding frenzy. Float anything and it would get snapped up. This caused a boom in small start-ups created with no business plans and often no skilled staff/management. It did not matter if these start-ups would make it or not, they were just bait. Many employees of "real" companies got side-tracked into these failed start-ups wich impacted the entire industry.

          Of course any such activity is not sustainable and a crash was inevitable.

          So what's happening now? Well there's definitely a resurgence, but at least it appears most based on sound businesses principles. This will boom, but should not boil over.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022)
          I would be worried if my mom or a cab driver was talking about 'web 2.0', but hardly anyone in our technical group ever mentions it (the cab driver and mom have no idea what it is).

          Yes, we talk about ajax but that's about it.
      • by Targon (17348) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:11PM (#20076721)
        I want to know what bubble they are talking about here. There are some huge players that keep going up and up, but there isn't a huge surge in the industry where everything is going strong. To be honest, the tech sector has NOT recovered from the stock market tech crash of 2000, with the following tech sector crash of 2001-2002 where many companies went under.

        For those who missed it, the stock market took a dive in 2000, in part because the whole Y2K(Year 2000) issue ended up being uneventful, and many people who were working because companies were spending money to make sure Y2K didn't hurt them suddenly were out of a job. The other reason for the crash really deserves to be looked at.

        As many are aware, the Internet came into the public eye in the 1994-1996 period. Before that, the general public was not aware of the Internet, and public access was very difficult to find, with colleges/universities being the way to get connected for the most part. By the middle of 1996, more and more non-technical people were discovering the Internet, and so the start of the bubble began. Those with business degrees started to look at the Internet as a way to make money(not to be confused with the technical people who started tech companies).

        Those with a business degree and no real technical knowledge really had no business starting a high-profile tech company, but, there was hype about the Internet, and those with business degrees tend to know people who have money. So, these business people would get financing for an idea that wasn't even developed yet. For the worst offenders of the .com bubble, we saw a president with a business degree and no knowledge or product then go on to hire somewhat more technical people as vice presidents, but they too were not very technical. So you have a group of 3-10 people without any ability to develop a product going out to hire directors and managers who DID have a clue. So, the next step was to hire the real talent to develop the product. By this time, you have no product, and perhaps 30-50 people trying to develop a product.

        With the initial money, these companies might go for around 2-3 years or so before the money ran out. This puts us right at the 1999 or so timeframe. What happens when you have dozens of companies, each one having gotten several millions of dollars each running out of venture money at the same time without any positive income? Suddenly the venture capitalists realized their mistakes, and they put the breaks on funding these go-nowhere fluff companies that were based on an idea but without the skills or products to allow for a payoff.

        Boom, the stock market took it hard, and the .com bubble burst. At that point, you really had two big classifications of tech companies, those with products that could make money, and the companies that were founded based on hype and not much else.

        Over the 2000-2001 time period, with venture money not being available, many of the smaller companies that had products started to run into trouble. Their customer base was shrinking, and even with a good product, too many companies were going into defense mode and not spending, even on good ideas or products. This caused the larger companies like Cisco and Sun Microsystems to run into problems because they grew huge based on the demands of the smaller companies that were now dropping like flies. They were not in danger of folding, but downsizing was needed. Of course, all of these unemployed technical people suddenly could not buy the tech products, so the rest of the tech sector slowed down a lot.

        The downturn in the tech sector as a whole continued through the end of 2002 into the beginning of 2003. By then, the sector had hit it's bottom and was slowly recovering. The survivors started to see a recovery in their business, but the sector as a whole STILL has yet to fully recover. The promise of what the Internet has to offer is still there, but many lenders and investors
        • by kcbrown (7426) <slashdot@sysexperts.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @04:37PM (#20078017)

          With the initial money, these companies might go for around 2-3 years or so before the money ran out. This puts us right at the 1999 or so timeframe. What happens when you have dozens of companies, each one having gotten several millions of dollars each running out of venture money at the same time without any positive income? Suddenly the venture capitalists realized their mistakes, and they put the breaks on funding these go-nowhere fluff companies that were based on an idea but without the skills or products to allow for a payoff.

          Boom, the stock market took it hard, and the .com bubble burst. At that point, you really had two big classifications of tech companies, those with products that could make money, and the companies that were founded based on hype and not much else.

          Yeah, but if it were just a problem with the way the VCs were funding things, the entire stock market wouldn't have tanked, because venture capital funds are generally regarded as relatively high-risk anyway and, in any case, a company that goes off the radar before going public has little effect on the stock market. No, there's another connection here that you didn't mention.

          When a venture capitalist funds a company, it will often put its own executive management into place in order to ensure that the goals of the VC are met. The question then is: what are the goals of the VC?

          Well, to make money, of course. Thanks to the internet hype during the dot-com boom, internet companies were able to go public and get some crazy money for the initial stock offering. VCs typically own the bulk of said stock, and thus VCs were able to make a lot of money off of that. Initially, the companies in question generally offered something of value, but when the VCs caught on to how easily IPOs made money for them, they started to fund pretty much any internet startup, even those without any solid business plan or any real product. Their goal was to make money as quickly as possible.

          They would do this by manipulating the appearance of the company to outsiders, by forcing (via the executive management they put into place) the company itself to grow rapidly regardless of need. In those days, company growth was seen as an indicator of future success, and the VCs took advantage of that. In fact, they did so at the expense of the long-term prospects of the company, since they wanted to make their money as quickly as possible. The companies would go IPO and the VCs would make a pile of money on it.

          Why did the market crash, then? Because investors eventually wised up. The companies in question went public via IPO but because they often had no real product and no real business plan they were unsustainable. Even companies that had good products and a good business plan ended up failing because their long-term financial outlook was severely compromised by their unneeded growth. And their post-IPO stock performance eventually reflected that.

          Stock investors eventually caught onto the scam, and stopped buying into IPOs. IPOs as a result started failing out of the gate, and VCs started losing money as a result as well. But most importantly, the whole thing destroyed the confidence of investors in the stock market. And the market naturally crashed as a result, with all the fallout that comes of such a thing (which you described nicely).

          The bottom line is that VCs are, from what I can see, primarily responsible for the dot-com crash. Some of it was the result of stupidity, but most of it was the result of willful greed.

      • by cowscows (103644) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:19PM (#20076879) Journal
        Devorak is confusing buzzwords with a bizarre economic fluke. Every time there's a new, potentially disruptive technology on the horizon, we get a bunch of the big players talking about how it's going to be a revolution, and a bunch of smaller companies come out of nowhere looking like they might be able to take advantage of this new thing to outmaneuver the entrenched giants.

        A lot of press releases are issued, pundits wonder if this hot new buzzword is the next big thing, and a bunch of investors throw money at it, hoping they'll get lucky. At the end of the day, the buzzword usually ends up not being feasible for mass production, or not really gaining consumer acceptance, or for whatever reason it doesn't become the next big thing in terms of flying off of store shelves.

        The dot-com bubble was unusual in that not only were there about a zillion buzzwords, there was also some real disruptive technology going on, and this whole internet thing is a technology that's disruptive at so many levels. The evolution of the internet effected not just the tech world, not just the corporate world, not just education, not just individuals sitting at their desk at home, it was something that changed how all of those things functioned. When it crashed, lots of people looking to get rich quick found out that it wasn't all that easy, but don't pretend like we ended up back where we started. A lot of people made a lot of money, and there are plenty of companies created in that madness that not only survived, but which continue to do well. A whole industry was born in the dot-com era.

        Web 2.0 has plenty of hype, no doubt, and it will likely leave the internet a more interesting place than it was before. We're not moving into some sort of post-information age now, it's pretty much just business as usual. If there's anymore hype than normal, it's only because the internet makes distributing hype much easier and cheaper than it used to be.

    • by crovira (10242) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:33PM (#20076109) Homepage
      If you believe anything that comes out of his cloaca, I've got a bridge to sell you...

      Once again, Dvorak doesn't know what is happening or what people are doing with the Web.

      I have never met anyone as consistently wrong as Dvorak.

      How he hangs onto his job is beyond me.

      Then again, I think anything he would actually write for is probably Rupert Murdoch style fish wrapper.

      Yeah, John C. tell me again how Apple should be chopped up and sold off to enhance share-holder value.

      You stupid cunt. Blinkered, Phillistine pig ignoramous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300) *
      Web 2.0 is a technology upgrade (Basicly assuming people have a modern web browser IE 6+,Firefox) that will give customers more tools on the web pages... It doesn't change the Business model. Wich the .COM boom tried to do. the "Web 2.0" Stuff is just the natural upgrade to websites that will add a bit more interface to them... Before that they did it with Java Applets, Active X controls, or just clumsy reloading of pages. Much like how some people thought Color TV was just a fad. Color TV was an improvem
  • Dvorak important and relevant? I think not.

    Is there a way to put a -1 against a certain "Story writer"? I dont care if Bonk.. er Zonk or whoever puts it here...

    zzz = Dvorak
  • Really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:22PM (#20075911) Journal
    "Every single person working in the media today who experienced the dot-com bubble in 1999 to 2000 believes that we are going through the exact same process and can expect the exact same results--a bust."

    The first sentence of the article and the first blatantly incorrect statement. Is it worth reading on?
  • by Aslan72 (647654) <<psjuvin> <at> <ilstu.edu>> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:23PM (#20075919)
    People get giddy with their money and spend it foolishly, yes; however, this time around I think it's a bit different. People within the top tier of sites are actually making money, creating business plans, etc. Services that are offered are actually useful and when they aren't, they get eaten.
    • by CdBee (742846) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:30PM (#20076063)
      It's also different in that probably half as many people again are "online" than 7 years ago, the technology is much better and the kind of interaction the original Web bubble required can be implemented without click-and-load HTML-only interfaces.... and more to the point, the business sector seems to have a far better insight into what business plans sell and what services are desirable
      • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:10PM (#20076697)
        Not to mention SOX is doing more to prevent foolish IPO's then anything. If you want to do a IPO, you have to have all sorts of money to do it now where during the Web bubble, it didn't take much. Now what you WILL see is companies who made it through the bubble or that started around the end of the bubble snapping up YouTube (wait....already done), Flickr (whooops...Yahoo got them) and MySpace (well fox bought them....). Anyone seeing a pattern? The aim of Web 2.0 seems to be to get bought. Could that be why Dvorak thinks it might be bigger? Say if Google's stock just tanked overnight and died....well we'd loose alot of stuff there! A search engine, gmail.....more....

    • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuitNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:41PM (#20076227)
      The people in the top-teir of the bubble 1.0 were making money also. That's why they're still around (Amazon, eBay, etc).

      The startups still aren't making money, they still don't have business plans, they're exactly like they were in the bubble 1.0 days. Only now, instead of an IPO, you wait until Google buys you.
    • by acidrain (35064) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:56PM (#20076443)

      People get giddy with their money and spend it foolishly, yes;

      Sure Google's stock is way up there, and the price/earnings ratio is a little foolish on some of the brand name tech stocks, but go back and look at the stock charts. This time around, there is none of the obscene spiking that sends investors into a "buying panic." And without those heights to fall from we won't have a "selling panic." So the basic mechanics of a bubble in the investment sense are missing. Investors have mostly been thinking about commodities and uranium, and are generally wary of tech stocks after the dot bomb.

      --
      thegirlorthecar.com [thegirlorthecar.com] - a dating game for guys

    • by nonsequitor (893813) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:00PM (#20076515)
      That's right, the first bubble was caused by giving inordinate sums of money to people with no business plan by people who had no conception of the technology business. This time around tech businesses are not being run by college dropouts holding lunch break keggers with their investors' money, not that there's anything wrong with that.

      The only bubble bursting at the moment is the subprime and alt-a real estate bubble. This will effect all aspects of the economy, including the tech sector. However, that is not the same as the web 2.0 bubble bursting.

      Nothing to see here, move along. And for the record, I didn't RTFA, clicking on Dvorak links only encourages him to write more useless drivel.
  • I dont believe so. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:23PM (#20075923)
    It's not like the 90's where anyone with a basic idea and a BS/BA degree could get venture capital to start up "the next best thing". Most of those companies died out, and people are more cautious with their money. Most of the new companies and ones who survived are service related. Those can live on, and whether it's AJAX or the next big tech, it doesnt matter. If you fill a real niche and make a solid product you will survive. If you're a new company living in an AJAX web 2.0 dream thinking you're cool, and hiding behind some pretty effects but no real substance you're in for a long trip. This is true for any business.
  • by hansoloaf (668609) <hansoloaf@yahDALIoo.com minus painter> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:23PM (#20075925)
    I would look into this - is it as crazy as it was back then? I don't see many IPO's with paper millionairs appearing overnight and going bust just as fast. Nor I see many massive hiring of naive and unskilled workers with inflated salaries. I'm sure the latter is still happening but I don't see it on the scale we saw in the 90's. So if there's a bust - I don't think it'll have a big impact as it did back then. I could be wrong though.
    • No, you're not wrong. The writer of the article doesn't seem to understand what causes "bubbles" and what the real impact is when they burst. What made the 99-00 "bubble" burst so dramatic was due mostly in part that lots of people lost lots of money. If "the next big thing" pops, people will lose money but it won't be nearly as bad.

      • by jshriverWVU (810740) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:45PM (#20076289)
        Something I've always wondered. It's common knowledge, the .com burst "lost a lot of people money". But money doesnt go away, it just shifts. I wonder who really profited from the bubble. If someone owns a bunch of overvalued stock and sells it, then it tanks and the owns "lost everything" the person originally selling it still made a lot of money. Same with businesses, I'm sure a lot of money was spend on buildings, hardware, whatever so the people selling those must have made a lot of money.

        A real bubble exploding in my view is just a massive transfer of money from one market (or segment) to another. Am I wrong if so what is the reality of the situation?

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:08PM (#20076675) Journal
          A lot of the money went to the venture capitalists who invested early on. Put money in a company in exchange for a share, wait for the IPO, hype it until it's over-valued by an order of magnitude or so, then sell. It doesn't matter if the company goes anywhere, as long as you can palm it off on someone before anyone notices.

          More of the money was not really lost, because it wasn't really there in the first place. People were 'paper millionaires.' They put time and effort into a start-up, and were rewarded with shares on top of their salary. These shot up to being worth millions. They kept them, assuming future growth, but then the market crashed and they had a load of paper. On paper, they lost a lot, but in practice the fact that they didn't have a job anymore because their company had folded was likely to have a bigger impact on their life.

          Some in the second category might have borrowed money against the shares and spent it on shiny toys. When the shares collapsed, the shiny toy (car, boat, etc) sellers kept the money, and they went into debt. Another extension of this is people who supplied things to the start-ups. Take a look at Herman Miller's stock price from 1995-2000; it shot up. Every start up was buying Aeron chairs at $700 each. They weren't badly affected by the burst, because they still had all the money that had been spent on chairs and were able to re-focus their market. Sun was another one that did well during the boom era. Everyone needed web servers, and Sun were selling them. They didn't do so will in the immediate aftermath, but are picking up again now.

          Take a look at any company that sells things that start-ups buy in large quantities, and you'll get a good idea of where the real money went. The paper money mostly went to the investors savvy or lucky enough to cash out early.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by BlueWaldo (651162)

          But money doesnt go away, it just shifts.
          Wealth is created a destroyed all the time. If I have destroy my house, I have lost wealth and no one gained it. If I find a new cheaper way to make a wigit I can create wealth faster than other people.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jrumney (197329)
            Destroying one house means another needs to be built in its place. This creates wealth for the people involved in its construction, and eventually for the new owner and the bank who finances their mortgage. As the original poster said, the wealth doesn't go away, it just shifts away from the idiot who destroyed his house.
      • by Svartalf (2997)
        That would depend solely on how much money would be lost if the bubble popped.

        Web 2.0 doesn't seem to rate (yet) on the people snorting the green coke scale.
        Dot-Com had all kinds of VC money being pissed into the breeze. Heh... I wish I
        had some of that kind of cash right now. >:-)
  • FUD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kazrath (822492) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:24PM (#20075949)
    Shouldn't this article be linked under FUD in wikipedia?

    It could happen. It may even happen. But acting like a mother and predicting every possible failure or catastrophe that can happen and when one of them does saying "Look I was right" only works on kids.

  • by TechyImmigrant (175943) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:24PM (#20075959) Journal
    He's taking a whole load of independent businesses that happen to use more modern web protocols and formats (because they can) and using the common element of the web protocols they use to label it a bubble.

    Laughable.
  • We may have a certain percentage of Web 2.0 companies tanking soon, but we have not had a stock market run-up like in 1999-2000. So no, the impact of a forthcoming "burst" won't be nearly as bad.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:25PM (#20075995) Homepage Journal
    Dvorak seems to have a job despite all logic.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:26PM (#20076003) Homepage Journal
    There have been many lessons learned since the last bubble. This time around, investors want to see real business plans, and there's got to be a plausible way of actually making some money. Perhaps more importantly, they're putting actual business-savvy people in charge this time around.

    This isn't 1999, where a twentysomething with a web site could land millions of dollars of funding for a web site whose biggest feature was that it was on the web, and then get put in charge of the company, spend the money on Aeron chairs and foozball tables, and run the company into the ground.
  • by Datasage (214357) <DatasageNO@SPAMtheworldisgrey.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:26PM (#20076015) Homepage Journal
    I think some companies in this current era of the web are a bit over valued. (Google in particular comes to mind) Its likely that at some point, the market will correct that. But in general, companies are much more stable and substantive than they were in the late 90's.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      Google is making good money. The question is when people get tired of MySpace will the ad bubble burst?
      I don't really think so. Using the Internet is now totally ingrained in to our way of working.
      Need to find out where something is? Go to Google maps.
      What to find out about something Google it or use the Wikipedia.
      Weather?
      Sales?
      Internet.
      Now some of the "social" sites like MySpace, Facebook "they should have taken the billion", Flick'r, and maybe YouTube will go the way of the sock puppet but the Internet is
  • Because it's Dvorak saying it, it must be false, but then even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. I'm almost sure of this -- there's been such worship at the altar of Web 2.0 that people have not been noticing the river rising outside their windows. Web 2.0 has been touted as the next coming, but along with the positive gains there have been the inherent flaws and security problems. Pile on top of that the general low quality of programming nowadays and one has to ask how long before it does happen.

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:29PM (#20076045)

    In 1999, how many companies were there that were publicly traded, had market capitalizations in the billions, and had never made a dime? How many Supwer Bowl ads were there in 1999 for massively unprofitable companies?

    Contrast that with the current situation. There is probably some degree of overspeculation, particularly in the housing market, and this will take some time to correct. But to see a massive crash of companies built up by VC pump-n-dump...no. That's not to say there can't be a crash, but it won't be for the same reason as 1999.

  • What's to worry? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taskiss (94652)
    I'll worry when a sock puppet hawks pet food on a superbowl commercial or when some company tries to create a business model around delivering groceries to consumers from a van.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:31PM (#20076071)
    The first .com thing was called a bubble by many economists and business people from the get go and it clearly was. I remember my roommate (who was a business major) joking about how we should start a business. We'd have no business plan and no way to make money, offering something worthless. We'd lose a ton of money first quarter and just cut costs every quarter after that. Stock prices shoot up on the "growth" (less loss was huge growth for .coms) and we get out like madmen, well, minus the whole securities fraud thing.

    The problem was people were just throwing their money in to startups that had no fucking clue what they were doing. Many were offering something totally worthless (Cuecat), many had no plans for how they'd actually make any money since their whole business was giving shit away for free, many just pissed money away on parties and such.

    Well I don't see that happening right now. Maybe it is and I've just missed it, but I do kind of keep an ear on these sort of things. If people have been unreasonably throwing money in to anything it has been housing, and at least that's a market where you are purchasing a real property with real value (though that doesn't mean you can't overpay). Sure there's still investment in online technology but that doesn't make it a bubble of any sort. There are plenty of successful online businesses. Google is a great example. While their stock is surely overvalued, there is no question that they are a profitable company and face no danger of going out of business should it drop. They are propped up by a solid positive cash flow, not a stock bubble.

    I don't claim to be an economist or anything, but I really am missing the .com bubble if there is one. If I was to pick something to be concerned about it would be the real estate market as there as a good number of ARM mortgages that are going to be resetting in rate here soon and values in most areas are not rising much if at all.
  • is this a joke? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:31PM (#20076073) Homepage
    Stock bubbles are the result of speculation. Speculation is when people buy companies with incredibly high SharePrice/EarningsPerShare (P/E) ratios. For a mature company, this number is typically around 15, meaning if earnings stay the same, and all earnings are paid as dividends, over a 15 year period, you would not lose money even if the share price went to 0. For expanding companies, P/Es can typically be as high as 40.

    In the bubble, investors were buying shares with very high prices despite very little earnings. The Nasdaq currently has an average P/E 24.01, which is reasonable if some companies are mature and some are in a high-growth state.

    And... since when was Dvorak a market analyst? I thought he was just a troll who posted absurd comments in order to draw readers...
  • Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Senjutsu (614542) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:32PM (#20076089)
    In order for the bubble to burst, you have to have a price bubble in the first place. Whither the inflated Web 2.0 company stock values? Most of them haven't even IPO'd because of SarBox. Venture capitalists pissing their money away on craptacular Web 2.0 companies isn't the same thing as the inflated stock pricing on Internet companies and the resulting massive correction afterwards.
    • by popo (107611)
      So it's only a "bubble" if mom and pop retail investors are involved? But if venture capitalists are inflating a sector well beyond its revenue potential, then there's no correction up ahead?
      • Well yes and no. If VC money is tied up in bubble type companies then presumably they won't be investing in other companies that could lead to better investments for others down the road. But, VCs losing money isn't generally considered a bubble bursting and usually considered part of the risk of being a VC.

        I think a bubble by it's definition must be rampant speculation by lots of people. When your barber or waitress starts talking about how they are going to make millions on a youtube copy then you can
  • His evidence list is a joke. First off if the social networking sites collapse, how bad will that be for the industry? Secondly, if the you-tube clones fail, how bad will that be? The rest of the evidence is really not much about collapse, just a bunch of bitches about likely project failures. The quote "the iPhone mania may be a bad sign of something" is priceless.

    Summary:

    John vents his spleen in a rambling manner, inflates the headline to something about industry collapse and slashdot reports it as news.
  • Thank you (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by popo (107611)
    I can't tell you the number of times I've stared in amazement at this latest crop of Web 2.0 startups that look, smell and sound exactly like their Web 1.0 counterparts. The basic underlying problems of generating critical mass, ad revenue, and basic business model stupidity haven't changed. The insane multiples that go into valuations haven't changed either: Consider that most brick and mortar businesses are valued at a small multiple (if any) of annual revenues, but web companies are still valued at a r
  • What bubble? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:35PM (#20076149) Homepage Journal
    IMO, Web 1.0 was about what was on the internet (grocery shopping online, etc), Web 2.0 is about how things are on the internet (ie AJAX). Web 2.0 is primarily a maturing of what we already have. It's the result of bandwidth for the masses, new browser features due to the rejuvenation (thanks to Mozilla) of a stale market (thanks to Microsoft), PCs with lots of CPU cycles and RAM to spare, high resolution displays, and the fact that such a large percentage of society is online.

    A lot of what he talks about in the article is copy-catting. Youtube is extremely popular, thus a lot of other copy-cat video sites are popping up, often targeting more specific markets that are less social in nature. Social networking and user-generated content is pretty much the same thing. When people get tired of it they will stop doing it. Big deal.

    I really don't understand what bubble he's talking about that is going to burst. The sites that comprise the internet will come and go and change according to traffic. Just as fads, hair length and clothing styles come and go, so will various movements on the internet as it matures.

    Dan East
  • by MadMacSkillz (648319) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:36PM (#20076153) Homepage
    Once I saw it was Dvorak, all I read was "blah blah blah." I guess John got tired of writing articles to piss off Mac users and decided to try a bigger crowd...
  • The dot com bubble bursted because many companies were simply backed by investment money but failed to generate any significant revenue. As soon as the investors backed out, the companies worth were exposed to be close to zilch.

    Since IANAE (economist) I can't really tell how it is this time, but just because a financial sector is growing doesn't mean that it is a bubble. (A bubble implies that the marked is just filled with air instead of real money.)

    However, as we've seen through all modern history, stock
  • Is Dvorak Delirious? (Score:4, Informative)

    by imstanny (722685) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:39PM (#20076189)
    By 'Bubble' I assumed he was referring to the Nasdaq's collapse back in early 2000. (At its current level, it needs 100% return to get back to those levels).

    His article has nothign to do with the traditional understanding of what a "bubble" is, espeically when referring to the tech 'bubble' of the late 90's.

    If somehow he is referring to the tech bubble in the financial sense, there is no 'Tech Bubble 2.0'. Why? Well, Yahoo, like most other tech stocks at the time, was trading at over 1700 P/E at one point in the late 90's. In other words, based on its earnings at the time, it would have taken 1,700 years for it to make the amount of money its stock was worth. Yahoo is currently trading at a P/E of 46. In fact, most stocks now are trading at fairly conservative P/E ratios as compared to historical ratios.

    You wanna see a tech stock with a high P/E in modern day society? Check out ticker symbol: CRM. Luckily, in the grand scheme of things, this is just an outlier.

  • the act of prognostication, or calling it out, will almost certainly ensure that it doesn't happen (burst) as it will raise awareness and limit investment.
  • There is an absurd amount of doom and gloom in the markets surrounding the sub prime fallout and it's impact on the housing and financial sectors.

    When everyone shouts "the sky is falling", it's time to step back and look for bargains. The opposite is true--when everyone cries out in victory over the awesome performance of their stocks, it's time to look at your best performers and see whether their price is still justified. Many stocks are declining for no good reason since they have little or nothing to do
    • by tehdaemon (753808)

      We are nowhere near the speculation levels that occurred during the last bubble.


      Actually, we are well beyond those speculation levels. It is just that the speculations are in bonds, asset-backed securities and other financial thingies, where last time it was mostly tech stocks.

      T

  • by Wingsy (761354) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:44PM (#20076263)
    When I saw that it was an editorial by Dvorak I just moved on and did not RTFA. I did, however, waste a few minutes of my time to come here just to say that. :)
  • ...when the tubes are clogged.
  • Show me the money (Score:4, Informative)

    by zapatero (68511) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:49PM (#20076345) Journal

    During The Great Bubble the numbers predicting the pop were glaringly obvious. I recall many financial articles predicting the demise of EToys, Pets.com, Webvan, etc. And the believers dismissed the analysis as "old economy" and people who "didn't get it". The new economy was based on "eyeballs", "stickyness", etc. Not profit vs. loss. It was a whacked time. It was The Great Bubble.

    Show me the numbers now. What bubble? Sure there's web 2.0 hype. Google, the leader of web2.0 is profitable. Maybe overvalued, who knows. And yahoo too. Also protifable. And amazon. And myspace and linkedin and facebook, all the posterchildren of web 2.0, are all financially sound even if they aren't all profitable.

    So show me the numbers that indicate a bubble on the scale of The Great Bubble.

    Dvorak really is a wind bag. Too bad Slashdot with its human editors can't at least compete with Digg and prevent this kind of drivel making it to the front page.
     
  • Why does this guy even have a job predicting tech trends? If I could fill one bucket with everything Dvorak gets right and the other bucket with shit, I can guarantee you I know which bucket will fill up first.
  • What bubble? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mike1024 (184871) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @02:52PM (#20076397)
    It was always my understanding that for a 'bubble' to 'burst' there has to be a market full of overvalued assets. For example, people valuing pet food delivery companies at millions of dollars. I'm not sure what particular overvalued assets this bubble is made of.

    So what does Dvorak say?

    The current bubble, already called Bubble 2.0 to mock the Web 2.0 moniker, is harder to pin down insofar as a primary destructive theme is concerned. A number of unique initiatives, however, are in play here. Let's look at a few of the top ideas floating the new bubble.

    Neo-social networking. Today everything from YouTube to the local church has a social-networking angle. And this doesn't even consider the actual social-networking sites, from MySpace to LinkedIn to Facebook to even Second Life. This scene is totally out of control and will contribute to the collapse for sure.
    MySpace was purchased by fox for a somewhat excessive sum, but that's already happened. Facebook's owners reportedly want two billion dollars for the company, but no-one has paid them that. So from this category I see one company, facebook, and it isn't even publicly traded.

    Video mania. With dozens and dozens of YouTube clones cropping up to get on the "throw money away" bandwagon, you must sense that the eventual shakeout in this space will have a negative impact.
    Youtube was a rather expensive purchase for Google and it's hard to see where the payback is, but that's already happened. I can't really think of any competitors anyone is likely to invest in... google video, perhaps, but that's owned by Google anyway.

    User-generated content. This idea has been around since Usenet and just keeps improving. It will make no contribution to the overall collapse except for users reporting the collapse.
    "This part of the bubble is not part of the bubble"??

    Mobile everything. Here is another concept that has been in play since the mid-1990s. It cannot trigger a collapse since it will never fully get off the ground, although the iPhone mania may be a bad sign of something.
    Mobile what? Are mobile phones a bubble? Or is there a bubble of iPhones and iPhone-like-devices that I'm not aware of?

    Ad-leveraged search. Most search engines will fail as a matter of course. This segment of the industry is mundane. It would be affected by a crash but not trigger one.
    You mean Google?

    Widgets and toolbars. I cannot see the widget scene going crazy, and the jury is still out on toolbars. But there is the potential for nuttiness, I think. The problem here is that these things tend to be dependent on the stability of operating systems and browsers. One bad operating-system patch and suddenly nothing works.
    There's a "widget and toolbar" bubble? I don't know of any company built around selling "widgets and toolbars".

    So, here's Dvorak's bubble of over-valued assets:

    MySpace = fox
    Facebook - privately owned
    Youtube = google
    Google
    iPhone = apple

    Or in other words, the best examples Dvorak has of the bubble of the late 90s repeating itself are:

    Fox
    Google
    Apple
    Facebook

    Personally I don't agree with Dvorak's assessment that these companies are about to collapse (although it seems unlikely anyone would pay $2 billion for facebook).

    Just my $0.02.
  • Does Dvorak keep ending up on the main page?

    Every time I see Dvorak, I think "Finally! Another article on the Dvorak keyboard layout! Perhaps we'll gain a few more converts!". Alas, woe is me, for it's just another article from that talking garden gnome.

    Confidental to editors: let him sink to the bottom with the rest of the slag.

  • Somehow I thought it was long ago established Dvorak's articles were better left unread. Why do they keep getting onto ./?
    Why do people submit them? Anyway, here's my response to Dvorak's worthless article:

    Dvorak makes an assumption that popular = thin membraned air filled structures. I submit this is not true. For example, automobiles, cell-phones, computers, internet access, coffee, potatoes, wheels and even including advertising... the list goes on. Some products have real human, social and economic valu
  • Oh no, not again!

    That does not refer to the so-call Web 2.0 "bubble", but to the usual doomsday prognosticating crap that has been the bane of human existence.

    Dvorak certainly benefits from all the attention he gets from his FUD, but he has no basis to declare this "Web 2.0 bubble."

    Efforts to capitalize on the newest technology will always see an eventual shakeout, but to say this one will be worst than the last is blowing smoke, to say the least.

    The last dot.com crash was pontificated by crazy boosts

  • by juuri (7678) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:09PM (#20076689) Homepage
    I was in SF then and am in SF now where there are quite a number of startups. If this is what the media really believes then they have no idea how crazy the dot.com bubble really was. It was a gold rush of epic proportions, people really did make 80k a year for knowing basic HTML. If you could string two sentences together and work Word you could be a project manager. If you knew three layers of the OSI and how to run tracert, you could be fast tracked to being an admin. Companies were desperate for people because everyone believe you had to ramp up customers *and* employees as fast as possible regardless of profitability.

    The companies around now all have some veterans of the crash. What I see are people who are frugal, want to stay small, and aren't out to IPO as fast as possible. Many of these companies are trying to make their series A last as long as possible. During the boom companies were planning how to spend series C before even closing B... it was crazy, fun, exciting and a total disaster.

    Here's a benchmark for how crazy SF was. Pretty much every company would reimburse most lunch and almost any taxi ride if you could come up with some loose business connection. There was such a wait for taxis downtown and SOMA that limo drivers from all over the bay would do extra day hours with a whole booklet of receipts from major taxi companies. You could take a limo pretty much anywhere in town for $10 flat with tip, $20 if it involved multiple stops or a short wait anywhere. This lead to you seeing kids fresh out of college, popping in and out of limos having $140 lunches at Aqua and such because it all came so easy. Everyone know it was a farce and was going to end soon (well everyone without an MBA or people who moved into town specifically for one of these crazy pie dreams). If I had to do it all over again, I would, because it was a fabulously good time on dumb people's money.

  • Wrong Industry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tansey (238786) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:13PM (#20076739) Journal
    I think the media is focused on the wrong industry. Most people here would agree that internet-based companies today are much more solid and the sky isn't about to fall on the IT industry like it did earlier in the decade.

    However, I do think there's a bust over the horizon, but just in another industry: entertainment. Think about the millions of dollars spent on producing video games, movies, and music. I'd argue that a push is happening among consumers away from expensive graphics-intense games (Nintendo Wii's success and PS 3's stumble), special effects-intense films (movies like Spiderman 3 are seeing rising production costs with falling profit margins), and one-hit-wonder artists' albums (iTunes' success is mostly due to the ability to purchase single tracks).

    So what I would imagine we'll see in a few years isn't another IT-industry bust, but an entertainment-industry bust. When production costs start to creep really close to product sales, the industry is going to go nuts. This isn't a bad thing though. Just like the dot-com bust forced companies to stop rehashing ideas with a new face, an entertainment bust would force companies to actually produce novel content rather than making sequel after sequel.
  • by VonGuard (39260) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:23PM (#20076949) Homepage Journal
    This time around, the bubble that's bursting isn't tech at all. In fact, look at the stock market the past few days: everything down, tech up. Web 2.0 won't be bursting anytime soon, if at all.

    The HOUSING market and mortgage industry, however... hooooooooo boy, that sector is bursting as we speak, and it just keeps getting worse. Tech will likely be the only thing that doesn't fall completely apart in the next 6 months, frankly.
  • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:33PM (#20077095)
    ...that web 2.0 companies are making money. They're not just airy fairy exercises in giving everything away forever. Flickr sold pro-accounts, for example, and huge numbers of people bought them even before Yahoo acquired the company. I bought one, and got much enjoyment out of it.

    There are some oddities out there that get lots of press for no discernible reason (twitter comes to mind), but most of the so-called 2.0 companies are solid companies with ways of generating revenue.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @03:37PM (#20077147) Homepage

    Yes, the "Web 2.0" bubble will pop, but nobody will notice.

    I did Downside [downside.com], and I have a good track record predicting Web 1.0 failures. Last time around, we had way too much capital going into bad ideas. "Web 2.0" companies aren't that capital intensive, and most of them aren't publicly held early stage companies. If that sector collapses, it will be a blip.

    That said, we're seeing some high P/E ratios. Google's is 44, and Yahoo's is 45. Those are high but not insane. Reasonable values for a big, successful company are in the 10-20 range. (Microsoft is 21, IBM is 17, Boeing is 23, AT&T is 20, News Corp is 21.) It's not like last time, when we were seeing P/E ratios above 100. Some of that history is at Downside's Deathwatch. [downside.com] ("Chart is not available for this symbol" means the company is so dead their ticker symbol is ancient history.)

    As an investor, I'm much more worried about housing and energy issues. Oil is at $77/bbl today. That has much more impact than anything in the web area. The US housing bubble is deflating, foreclosures are way up, too many adjustable-rate borrowers are being squeezed by rising interest rates, and it's not clear who holds all the paper collateralized by mortgages. Parts of the financial services sector will be squeezed hard by that. Those issues are 2-3 orders of magnitude bigger than "Web 2.0".

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @05:17PM (#20078485)
    Cause I remember the feel of the late 90s and it was night and day to what it's like now. Companies are so tight with their budget now that we're actually using equipment that would have been considered old during the last bubble. In fact, we lose and turn down customers because our equipment can't keep up or fails. That's insane (you don't turn down ten dollars to save a buck), but emblematic of the shell-shock that executives are still feeling from those times. Despite some big profits, I haven't seen spending returning to reasonable levels, much less the excess of the 90s. We've turned out the lights in the vending machines, no longer water plants and don't maintain the landscape anymore despite the fact that I work for a major, very profitable company.

    The dollar bubble is a much more serious concern. That's the bubble of all bubbles and it's popped. No one wants anything to do with it anymore given how recklessly the US congress has been spending our money (for things most people are very much against). No one wants our bonds and oil producers have started selling in Euros instead. The fed's answer: print more money. All "bubbles" spawn from this one and the eco-pundits treat it as a good thing cause it'll encourage exports, as if we still exported anything other than weapons. As a web application developer, I'd much rather the discussion be focused on the big picture rather than any one portion of our economy that is merely perceived to be inflated. The rest would work itself out on its own if we'd stop pumping worthless paper into the economy.
  • by turing_m (1030530) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @07:14PM (#20079617)
    1. Say obviously wrong and contentious stuff.
    2. Generate hits from people who have an urge to correct but do not realize they are being duped.
    3. Collect Ad revenue.

    No ??? anywhere in sight.
  • That's an easy one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by p3d0 (42270) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:16PM (#20081039)
    The current P/E of NASDAQ is 24. [yahoo.com] That's a tad high; with bond yields around 5%, [nber.org] a P/E more than 20 must be based on growth speculation. I could reasonably see the NASDAQ losing 20% of its value in one shot. However, during the bubble, the P/E of the NASDAQ was over 100. [economist.com]

    It's hard to overemphasize the difference between these two numbers. Look at the ratios between the NASDAQ P/E numbers and bond yields. Our current ratio is 1.2, which is 20% "too high". The bubble ratio was over 5.8, which 480% too high. The two situations are not even comparable.

    If the NASDAQ actually lost over 75% of its value, like it did when the dot-com bubble burst, I'd be buying as much of QQQQ as I could get my hands on.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

Working...