John Dvorak, who has been writing about computers and tech longer than I have been reading about computers and tech, recently wrote an article about the bursting of Bubble 2.0. Quite honestly, I can’t disagree completely. I mean, the impetus to add social networking in one form or another to anything and everything on the web is getting ludicrous. I expect the Real Estate industry to add user generated video to their various home listing systems so we can enjoy Chocolate Rain while looking for our next dream homes.
How many social networking/blog plays have been made in the last year? More than I care to track down, but three sites come to mind: Twitter, Jaiku and Pounce. Each one builds on the others’ ideas. All are an extension of the Myspace/Facebook/Blogger lineage. But how interesting are the people that use these sites? There are some folks who are so darn interesting they maintain an account on ALL OF THEM and will jump at a new account on the next social site to come along. NOBODY is that interesting. Something no one has ever thought of with these sites is when all this “fun” social networking becomes a second job, the “fun” leaves the equation. The background noise you will eventually hear is the sigh of the overworked social networker, realizing that they should get outside.
Now, to be clear, I do see this bubble getting ugly in blogging.
There are bloggers blogging about blogging, bloggers blogging about SEO who use SEO on their blog, and bloggers who make money blogging writing about making money with blogging. Read the last sentence again, I’ll wait for you. These blogs are all über-meta. Most make money with advertising. It’s 2007 and they are still using the word “monetize” ad-nauseam, which was overused during the fist dot-com boom.
Who are they hurting? Advertisers? But the advertisers got the clicks they paid for, right? There is some lost time on the readers’ part, but readers are sheep, right? These readers are just looking for the next easy money-making scheme to latch on to. I hear little pops popping left and right, like bubble wrap being snapped. The unsuccessful blog that tells you how to be successful is, let’s face it, not really going to tell you something useful. A craptacular blog deserves to implode. This unsuccessful blogger knows better. You probably do, too.
Remember podcasting? “You too can be a broadcaster.” Even I produced one. It is real work. Podcasting is on the cusp of breaking through to a mass audience and has been for 2 years now. But look who’s taken over. Sadly, the independent producer has not taken over podcasting. Large media outlets have gobbled up most of podcasting. You say, “The hell, you say!” I say look at the front page of the iTunes podcasting section. 8 out of 10 podcasts (numbers pulled out of my butt, but seem right) belong to some larger entity. Yet podcasting still can’t get to the audiences like traditional mass media. Maybe it’ll be ready by Bubble 3.0.
All that said, this all is not that bad. During the first boom, there was big money, IPO’s, and bad ideas written down on bar napkins getting millions in venture capital…and when the bust happened, it took your 401K with it. Lots of people were hurt. This time, it is different. Sarbanes-Oxley has made an IPO play a real hassle for any company wanting to go public (good or bad, it is just harder). The venture capital/IPO play of yesterday has been replaced by the harp filled song of the angel investors. They just want some of the profits, not to cash out 6 months after an IPO. Only the angels feel the pain of a crash if there is one.
If you do not believe me, even the Robert X. Cringley, in a recent interview with the Business of Software Blog, thinks there is no bubble.
Quote from the Article:
Davidson: Are we in a tech bubble?
Cringely: No. Tech companies today have to make a profit and the IPO market stinks. There have been some lucrative buy-outs and a couple big IPOs, but this is nothing like what we saw in the late 1990s. Not even close. If you are making a profit, it isn’t a bubble.
The tools to start up the next great start-up are cheap/free – and you can do it in your spare time between work and bed. No need to go after $25 million in venture capital. You just need a box with some software and time – as much time as you can give to work out your great idea that you thought of while you were flossing last night.
My final point: when this “Bubble” does blow, it is going to happen slowly, sector by sector. Bad ideas get wiped away and good ideas hold on. Slowly, over time, and not all at once.
It’s not really a bubble. It’s just business.