My ex-boss and good friend Josh Quittner, editor of Business 2.0 writes about the current Web 2.0 boom. Over a plate of Swiss Sausage and Sauerkraut, he asked him if we had reached bubble proportions, the kind we had seen back in the late 1990s/early 2000. My answer: we are not there yet, but we might be getting close…. and then I gave him my food test.
This time there’s no such thing as a free lunch. “I’ll know it’s a bubble when I can eat for free,” says my pal Om Malik. Malik’s a blogger and Business 2.0 columnist who has been covering Web 2.0 since its inception. Back then, he said, he could go three months without buying dinner—San Francisco was one big movable feast, with a buffet of dotcom parties every night. Now he gets just two or three invites a week.
As I said, we are getting close, very close… three more invites a week could tip the scales. Anyway we are keeping things tight at GigaOM, hiring, but within reason. There are no offices, and no Aeron chairs. The only luxury we spent our VC funds on: Macbook Pros. It is the only real tool of the trade, and it makes us all very productive.
Malik’s commercial venture, a tech blog called GigaOm, has only four paid employees and no office. Malik works out of his one-bedroom apartment. When he needs to see his customers, he meets them at the nearest Starbucks.
While there have been few big ticket buyouts – Skype, MySpace, and YouTube – the frenzy hasn’t kicked into high gear. What we are seeing is a lot of companies getting funded, many of them unlikely to go the distance. We can debate all we want – bubble, no bubble – but in the end it will all play out as it is supposed to.
Meanwhile, enjoy the picture (terrible snap with Treo 680) of the people who are laughing their way to the bank – Steve and (1/8 th) of Chad from You Tube, Joshua from Delicious and Stewart from Flickr. It was a rare opportunity – guess what they were saying?