Internet Bubble 2.0
By Arnold Kling
If you are a founder or an investor in a new business, then I would advise you to read the Business 2.0 article on 25 hot start-ups. Figure out what these enterprises have in common — and do the opposite.
The investors in these companies are mostly men, and the founders are mostly under 40. Instead, before you invest in or start a company, run the idea past your mom. My guess is that no mature woman would be foolish enough to throw her money away on any of these “hot 25.”
Looking back on the 1999 essay, I see that 7-1/2 years ago Yahoo had a market capitalization of $35 billion, which I thought was too high. Today, it has a market cap of $42 billion, which is 20 percent higher. Over a 7-1/2 year period, 20 percent is not a particularly good return (2-1/2 percent annual rate in nominal terms), but it is positive, which is more than what I would have expected. Yahoo is one of the few survivors of Internet Bubble 1.0. However, the most surprising survivor to me is Microstrategy (MSTR), a company whose accounting problems in March of 2000 helped to pop the bubble. It currently has a market cap of $1.6 billion, which is quite respectable. WebMethods is still around, but struggling badly. Pretty much every other company from those days is gone.
I imagine that if government got out of the schooling business and into Internet advertising, then the flow of entrepreneurial skill, enthusiasm, and venture funds would be in the opposite direction. Too bad we can’t orchestrate that.
For an easier way to make money than investing in start-ups, see Jeremy J. Siegel and Jeremy Schwartz in today’s Wall Street Journal.