If I had a pound for every time someone has earnestly informed me
that the internet bubble is about to burst, I wouldn’t be outlandishly
rich exactly, but I could easily fund Nasa’s next mission to Mars.
Internet bubbles. People seem to look at their watches a lot when
discussing this subject. It’s as if they are saying: ’Well, it’s one
o’clock now, which gives us another hour or two for lunch, and I guess
pretty much anytime after that. Another espresso, please, waiter.’
In other words, they don’t know when it will burst, but perhaps they
invested in the recent flotation of that internet travel company
everyone was talking about and didn’t make any money. The company that
used to be exceedingly popular but is now loathed by anyone who can say:
’I’d like to make a quick killing on one of these dotcom flotations
Suddenly everyone’s an expert and everyone has a view on when the bubble
will burst. Question: do you think it will be like one of those plastic
bottles of soapy bubbles you could buy and blow everywhere when you were
a child? When they popped you always got a sparkly bit of soap in your
eyes. I bet it’s going to be just like that.
Another thing. People have started throwing Microsoft into the
It’s all part of the same thing, apparently. Endless numbers of
over-valued e-commerce companies and Microsoft. People are quoting Bill
Gates, who told the world that the stock market would crash if Microsoft
lost its anti-trust case and that maybe the world would end also. I
could be making up the bit about the world ending, but Bill was pretty
tense about the whole thing.
He was right. The Nasdaq technology stock market did take something of a
dive. This was followed by CNN and BBC News 24 running a looping story
about the bubble bursting and that it was over for the small
(Picture thousands of small investors gathered on street corners looking
up at the sky as if they were waiting for an asteroid to smash into
Times Square. Someone should have told them that it was the wrong movie.
That was Armageddon with Bruce Willis and that really tanked.)
To answer these wild points as I have raised them. Well, Bill would say
that wouldn’t he? Most sensible people seem to agree that it would be a
pretty good thing for the bubble and everyone else - apart from Bill -
if Microsoft were broken up.
AT&T didn’t do so bad post break-up and, anyway, Babysofts, or even
BabyMicros, are warm, noughties-sounding names you could give the three
little Microsofts that would be spawned if the company was broken
As for those investors, get real and look at the small print. Read the
bit about investments going up as well as down. No-one could have
expected to invest in every dotcom float and make a fortune. There are
some good companies and their bubble won’t burst.
As for that travel company. It is still a great idea with a great name.
People just got greedy. The public, the owners and the bankers alike.