I believe in the power of internet marketing, web technology and efficiency. After a total disaster on the financial market and questionable investments in hyper-inflated priced properties, there is no other way forward than the technology sector with web services being in the lead of this trend. This sector is the need for a very sensible and careful investors as technology changes all the time and without proper structure based backing we know what can happen…- and we do not like “bursting bubbles”. Opposite to speculations on financial markets which require almost no knowledge just good bluffing skills, and a quick reaction to exchange rates, political decisions and other news the technical sector requires a firm knowledge base and “a magical ” business-tech-inventor nose to recognise and sniff out the good from the bad. this sector creates division between the old and the new type of investors. In this light, it came to my surprise to see The Independent (my favourite UK newspaper) cover story from 21st May which looked like an invitation for speculators rather than knowledgeable investors to enter the web investment market.
Floating shares of social media giants give us a good reminder of what has happened in the past. Just after the first public shares of LinkedIn become available on NYSE making company worth $10bn USD, The Independent asks questions regarding the true investment picture of this hi-tech social phenomenon. The picture The Independent painted for investors doesn’t look convincing. The newspaper brought to our attention Warren Buffett’s words which give potential investors an extra warning, but this all looks a little bit artificial as we are well into the third decade of www development. We know how much attention The Independent pays to its dramatic cover stories (don’t get me wrong – still my the most favourite paper in the UK), but this is especially poor attempt as Warren Buffet doesn’t have a mobile phone and is not even using PC at work. By looking for the much younger successor from 2007 he admits he no longer understands investments in new technologies. His GE stock is perhaps the closest thing to Hi-Tech he owns and although his 2001 comments on dot-com bubble were valid most of the market analytics at the time spot what is happening well before he did. March 2011 comments about high values of social networks sites looked like his PR release rather than 100% analytic based opinion. He never personally made an attempt to invest in www start up and he is an “Oracle” as far as he buys well established corporate shares where knowledge about speculations and over investment are two major factors to manage success. In essence, Warren Buffet is the worst example of an investor to quote when talking about dot-com bubbles and bursts. He is the exact opposite of what makes up a www investor.
After reading The Independent feature you would think the old world of “Brick and Mortar” and “Oil and Steel” investors are simply unable to digest idea of products and services which are sold in quantities millions per day and generate up to the sky profits without changing the Earth’s surface, Too good to be true? No -It just requires modern thinking which is perhaps not in the heads of The Independent writers ;-).
The only worrying sign about social networks comes from the advertising profit vs value factor which shows direct concerns for individual users rather than investors. The question is this: if they (Social Networks) don’t make money only from direct advertising what happens behind the closed doors with our data? Anyway, the real value of these networks is composition of two factors:
- How many users they have?
- How fast they respond to current need of their community to engage people more and to avoid MySpace effect?
we are still to find out more about their commercial potentials.
As many people say Google’s real value hasn’t been yet discovered even by Google themselves. Gigantic set of data about our behaviour gathered over years which Google is capable to store but only use it in a very limited and rather primitive way creates perhaps the most precious part of this vast Search Engine.
Back to the point of investment in social media and www technology we created list of 10 reasons why the dot-com bubble won’t burst again:
1) DSL services penetration - in 2000 speed and penetration of domestic broadband services was poor 150kbs was considered the internet speed of light only large organisations had access to T1 or equivalent connections. Half of the world didn’t know what internet was and apart from USA, EU, Japan, Korea and few far east “tigers” use of the internet for domestic purposes was unknown. Today high-speed domestic internet connections are available on all continents including Antarctica and for some people Wikipedia become the main source of information and replaced paper version of encyclopaedia from our houses. Speeds increase, networks expand to new territories and users.
You would be silly not to invest in growing market.
2) Control over data - the beginning of the century have seen Amazon struggling with a lawsuit when they served different prices to different users. They knew they should monetize from the knowledge they had about their customers’ behaviour somehow, but they had no clue how to do it. Now days the sophistication of online direct marketing tools is higher. Online retailers, advertisers and publishers learnt quickly how to cooperate rather than compete with classic media channels to control their marketing effort and gather relevant information about the marketplace.
You would be silly not to invest in technology which gives you detailed information about your potential marketplace.
3) Mobile devices - once again Apple showed the world the way forward with three major players on the market it became obvious the war has just begun, the latest Motorola model shows powerful phone which contains ability to run your office on the big screen. With growing worldwide market penetration exceeding standard PC platforms there is only one way for all of us – go mobile.
You would be silly not to invest in the most energetic and vibrant market in the world.
4) Efficiency - from fascinating tool for academics and huge corporations and awkward gadget used in domestic environment exploited very well by porn and gaming industries in the early days of 21st century WWW become stable and efficient day to day resource of information. Servers down seems to only appear on few websites (twitter in particular ) and if this happens very often it makes news in the offline media. Security standards improved and even a lot of data about us has been stolen through the online environment (with recent Sony PlayStation Network as flagship example). It doesn’t repel us from using internet for the most vital operations in our lives (online banking, booking doctors appointments). Maybe because during last few years government agencies showed us you do not need internet to loose 20 million size database with very important personal details (a CD or USB stick is just as dangerous in hands of an incompetent public worker). Either way corporate and government institutions, as well as consumers, did their homework and it looks like 5 minute visit to our online bank account is worth some risk (I wonder how many people remember how was it to queue in the bank for 45 minutes).
You would be silly to ignore the level of efficiency which is coming from these technologies.
5) Life dependency - mobile phones are now in their fourth decade of development. Recent polls have shown mobile phone is the most likely to be picked up from all our belongings including clothes (people have worn clothes for thousands of years) if we are forced to leave the home and allowed to take just one item. Strange? – I don’t think so, but 20 years ago we would choose cash, pants or a long coat. The mobile phone is now recognised as the most sophisticated tool for survival. With smart phones on the offensive, it won’t be long we will use them for virtually everything. With cloud storage services, these will create a powerful combination. I assume there will be always people like Warren Buffet who don’t use mobiles (he drags his PA behind him who makes all the calls :-)) but for most of us mobile instead of a PA is the way forward.
You would be silly not to invest in services and products which are considered the most important “thing” currently in our lives.
6) World goes green – whether we like it or not. With all the energy consumption and heat created by servers during hours of continue processing www is a “green” technology in its roots. There is also genuine anti-corporate aspect and element of social media being powerful enough to help shaping political decisions (see Iran, Syria or Egypt uprising examples).
Investors would be silly not to make money on something people like, have monetization process established and can be used towards charitable causes like saving rainforest at this same time without being seen as eco extremist.
7) Capital generation – online capital buys online technologies. In the early 21st century money invested in dot-coms were generated offline. Investors knew very little about the technology behind these ventures. Currently, very high prices are set on projects which attracted Google, Yahoo or Microsoft’s attention. These people made a lot of money online and they know what to do with technology, unlike Rupert Murdoch they know what purchasing a social network is about; people and their needs. You won’t be able to do a lot if the only change you make is to introduce bigger advertising. This is what happens when you have people with no clue making decisions in a fast paced technology environment. See YouTube.com and MySpace.com examples and you will realize what is the difference between Social Network invested by offline investors and online investor. As long online capital and online investors are involved in the online investment we are safe from “bursts” and “bubbles”.
Investment is not for everyone! In 2000 you could convince people you have boo.com you want $100m USD and they would give you money on the backbone others made money on Internet you will be also able to do it (of course you won’t). These days you need to prove interest first and then your idea gives you the chance to attract investors.
8 ) Never ending process - Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Google, Facebook all reinvented themselves during last 15 years several times. They all give their users what is on demand. There is an ongoing process of data with implementation involved. There is no longer the process of idea – development – product life – product redevelopment – product second life – new product. This is the case even for operating systems and it has become standard in all software industries especially for Social Networks as they have to reply to live demand.
9) Information and content distribution channel (Internet reshaped our way of looking in to the world). The first sensible broadcasting TV Channel was available from the 1950s that mean it took about 20 years of commercial TV use to make TV Channels sustainable from an investors point of view and interesting for masses. After this initial period, we have had colour tv, 24h channels, satellite tv, digital channels etc. Try to imagine for about 6-7 years now www is in this stage where it become possible to invest huge money in it. But looking back into TV development we are yet to invent the equivalent of “colour”. Social Networks are one of many steps we have taken to create something we can call the semantic internet.
You would be silly not to invest in a new media channel which allows you to explore new markets and create new products and services.
10) We love it – despite addiction, efficiency and all these elements www and social networks give us this extra edge for communication and entertainment. They are important when we want to share a picture of a newborn with relatives overseas or communicate with a business partner on the go who is currently unavailable to chat. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook were broadly adopted by masses but also by their potential competitors – offline media. Newspapers, TV Channels and Radio Stations all use and quote social media in their publications and programmes. Not being visible, not having followers means you are losing the audience. Some hate it, some love it but let’s face it with 500m users we are not talking about Marmite.
Investor who ignores investment in product as popular as can of Coke is silly. Ask Warren Buffet
This is all 10 reasons why there is no way that another .com bubble will burst. In the future if markets are down they will be down with no specific relation to .coms the same way banks over-invest or property become useless from investment point of view we will see .coms evolving but there is no comparison with what is happening today and what happened 10 years ago.
Investors simply need to adopt a 21st century approach to investment, again if you think about size of GE and the invention from which it started you can see the need for open-minded approach to current web developments and inventions. Dotcoms are here to stay and as per today most of these businesses are well under-invested and extremely efficient. The ratio of the number of employees to the number of users is astonishing, and per head each Google or Facebook employee earns much more for their company than any employee from traditional 20th century based corporations. The view that you can have small rented office 10 employees and make a lot of money makes no sense to 20th century investment experts who work with retail or heavy industry where millions stay behind toolkit, properties and natural resources. This company structure makes an investment far from impressive from speculation point of view. After all, what you’re investing in are just lines of code and some basic office infrastructure. With no knowledge, old fashion speculators are not happy with what they see.
We have this great idea – Universalintergalacticsocialmodularmarketingnetwork.com to move it project forward we just need investment of $1bn USD .
Are you in?