A new bubble?

In the last few months I’ve heard a number of people suggest we may be experiencing dot com bubble 2.0. Certainly in the PR space, we’ve seen a rush of new start up clients all keen to make their mark before they need to raise their next round of funding. We’ve also witnessed the VC firms raising money with relative ease. Put another way, money is not in short supply which is perhaps why so many have said it feels ‘bubble-ish’. While I too am slightly concerned I see some signs that this time around things will be different. Firstly, last time around many of the so called startups were little more than a set of PowerPoint slides, albeit slides about a really cool idea. This time around they have real technology and they have real customers. Second, last time rents were skyrocketing along with stock option grants. This time around, the economics seem to be in control. For example, all the startups I’ve seen this time actually feel like startups – there are very few Aeron chairs these days. Third, last time around you simply had to get some customers to get on track for an IPO. This time things are different. Indeed the data from 2005 shows Initial U.S. public offerings fell by 39 percent, to 41 during the year from 67 in 2004, according to VentureOne. And of the companies that went public, they collected $2.2 billion from their offerings, down a massive 56 percent from the $4.98 billion raised in 2004. And let’s remember 2004 was hardly a good year. So IPOs are few and far between which is good and bad news. The good news here is that this means people are much more focused on building real businesses. The bad news is that if these real businesses need serious capital injections to take them to the next stage, then they don’t have the public markets to go to. So while I may be guilty of not wanting to believe there’s another bubble on the way any time soon, from where I sit I don’t see the same pressures building, which may of course simply mean the bubble will be a different shape…

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