Now I am scared. Classmates is as far from Facebook as it can get on the internet, and yet is looking to cash in on the buzz around the entire social networking market. This is how a bubble gets created - by public market fund-raising that resembles pump-n-dump operations. Om agrees.
There's quite a bit of buzz in the blogosphere that the NY Times is freeing up the content locked within its Times Select service. This is great news and one more example of how content wants to be free.
I enjoy Jim Cramer, both on TV and online, thinking he's a welcome spark in an otherwise drab and conservative field. This, however, is the maddest I have ever seen him. He's going out on quite a linb by being so forceful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He's right that the above concepts have turned into buzzwords, and many businesses, led by service providers motivated by fees from new work, are spending money on these, and many will see negative returns on their investments.
But, bad business decisions does not make a bubble. At worst, the above list will come and go as silly fads.
What does make a bubble is equities trading at prices that can not be justified by traditional financial analysis. That's what happened in the dot-com bubble and the telecom bubble.
In the current internet scene, the stage where a new business needs large amounts of capital has shifted. It's much cheaper to start a company, so capital is required to really accelerate growth. Which means that the sources of capital have better filters and liquidity requirements for investors are not as urgent. As a result, you see much fewer companies raising public money. Fred Wilson had a couple of goodpieces on this a while back.
When the capital comes from private sources, it's really difficult to call a bubble.
Again, in the worst case scenario, this so-called bubble's worst effect will be a few low-return funds.