The dotcom era took away the hopes and dreams of many entrepreneurs, from online toy purveyors to delivery van services. The long-lasting success of Amazon is one thing; the quick rise of Uber seems to suggest were are in the middle of another bubble about to explode. That's not realistic, says Jenny Q. Ta, the CEO of the social media company Sqeeqee who spent many years riding the wave of tech success. Here, she shares some insights into why we are in a tech boon, not a bubble.
Tech Startup Valuations
"In 2000, tech company valuations tended to be based on little more than wishful thinking. Today's valuations, however, are less overblown and more realistically grounded in revenues, cash flows, and price-to-earnings ratios, which all combine with today's more sustainable business models to significantly decrease risk. According to Cue Ball Capital's Tony Tjan and Andrew Fu, top tech companies' PE ratios were in the 80-90x range in 2000. 'Nowadays,' say the two experts, 'valuations are much more sober: the average NASDAQ-listed company today trades at around 21x PE, and even high-flying companies such as Apple, the most valuable company ever, trades at only 15x PE.' Tjan and Fu also tell us that in 2000, median tech company sales revenues were a low $17 million, compared to median sales of $92 million in 2014."
VC Funding Trends
"Venture capital fundraising, while on the rise, is still far below the peak levels that indicated trouble was brewing during the dot-com era. According to Bill Maris of Techcrunch, VCs raised $100 billion in 2000, while VC funds raised in 2014 were only one-third that amount. The overall sums of private capital raised by today's tech startups over longer periods of time are indicators of industry health. The fact that viable companies are able to sustain their business models by infusing them with readily available capital while they move closer to determining the best course of action for their long-term viability makes it more likely that they will succeed over time."
Time from Launch to IPO
"During the dot-com bubble, tech startups went public far more quickly than they do today. At that time, according to Tjan and Fu, median age at IPO was five years, whereas today's median age at IPO has more than doubled, to 11 years. This lengthier period allows more time for startups to build revenues and develop the stability they need to succeed."
State of Technology
"Solid and sustainable technological innovation undergirds today's tech startups-innovation that was virtually absent during the dot-com era. Mobile technology and the power it places into the hands of today's companies is one example of a technology that is revolutionizing the way companies do business. Cloud technology is another. And while cloud technology-in the form of SaaS (software as a service)-is certainly changing the economics of doing business, it's nevertheless clear that technology is exploding in ways that help empower businesses to greater success."
Realities of Hindsight
"The ability to look back at the lessons learned through the dot-com disaster has many companies that are considering merging with or acquiring startups taking a closer look at what they'll actually be getting if they opt to sign on the dotted line. VCs are also casting a more critical and discriminating eye toward the startups that approach them for funding. In one sense, the voices of those who predict doom and gloom are actually making the success of the right companies more likely rather than less by inspiring caution in potential funders and thus encouraging more careful scrutiny of their prospective funding recipients."