During the Web 2.0 event in San Francisco last week, several comparisons were made between the dot-com bubble of the late nineties and the current fervor around Web 2.0 companies.
“Our Web 2.0 conference is prompting all sorts of people to declare that the Bubble-with-a-capital-B is back, Web 2.0 is over, and here we go again.” –O’Reilly Radar
While I agree that an apt comparison can be made, I think it is worth noting that many of the boldest Web 1.0 forecasts are coming true, just a bit later than expected. In 2004, Wired pointed out that online retail sales and household broadband penetration had a 1-year lag behind forecasts. Online advertising revenue was just two years behind, and the number of worldwide Internet users was two years ahead of forecasts.
So even if Bubble 2.0 is coming, the ideas behind Web 2.0 of “delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it and consuming and remixing data from multiple sources” could pay off in the long term. At Web 2.0, Mary Meeker compared the worth of companies that survived the dot-com bust at: their peak during the bubble; their lowest value (in the trough of the bust); and their current worth.
“Their current worth is higher than their value at the peak of the bubble -proof positive (according to her) that we’re in a new ‘boom’ era. What she’s saying is that if you got in a time machine, went back to 2001, and bought the companies that ended up winning, you would have made money.” –Jonathan Boutelle
So the potential is real and, this time around, we should have the lessons of Bubble 1.0 to guide us toward making better choices. At least, some of us should:
“Those who are doing the dot-com thing all over again, largely weren’t even around for the first wave. So when I get that sense of deja vu, it strikes me that I can’t just take comfort in knowing we’ll learn from our previous lessons.” -Kevin Cheng, OK/Cancel