Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Don’t Say “Bubble”

An amazing article from Nick Bilton, writing for Vanity Fair:

One Thursday morning in early June, the ballroom of the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel, in Menlo Park, was closed for a private presentation. The grand banquet hall appeared worthy of the sprawling resort’s five-star designation: ornate chandeliers hung from the ceiling; silk panels with a silver stenciled design covered the walls. Behind a stage in the 2,800-square-foot room, a large sign bore the name of Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most revered venture-capital firms. […]

[A] presentation, which adhered to a16z’s gray-and-deep-orange palette, seemed to have an ulterior motive. [Managing partner Scott Kupor], his hair neatly parted, was eager to assuage any worry about the existence of a tech bubble. While he conceded that there were some eerie similarities with the infamous dot-com bubble of 1999 — such as the preponderance of so-called unicorns, or tech start-ups valued at $1 billion and upward — Kupor confidently buoyed his audience with slides that read, “It’s different this time,” and charts highlighting the decrease in tech I.P.O.’s, the metric that eventually pierced the froth in March of 2000. Back then, a company went public almost every single day; now it was down to about once per week. This time around, he noted, the money was flowing backward. Rather than entering a company’s coffers in the public markets, it was making its way to start-ups in late-stage investments. There was little, he suggested, to worry about.

And then, toward the end of his reassuring soliloquy, the ANDREESSEN HOROWITZ sign fell from the wall and landed on the floor with an ominous thud.