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Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over With Facebook IPO 222

Posted by timothy
from the what's-your-favorite-gravedancing-music? dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Blank, a professor at Berkeley and Stanford and serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, says that the the Facebook IPO is the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley as we know it. "Silicon Valley historically would invest in science, and technology, and, you know, actual silicon," says Blank. "If you were a good venture capitalist you could make $100 million." But there's a new pattern emerging created by two big ideas that will lead to the demise of Silicon Valley as we know it. The first is putting computer devices, mobile and tablet especially, in the hands of billions of people and the second is that we are moving all the social needs that we used to do face-to-face onto the computer and this trend has just begun. "If you think Facebook is the end, ask MySpace. Art, entertainment, everything you can imagine in life is moving to computers. Companies like Facebook for the first time can get total markets approaching the entire population." That's great for Facebook but it means Silicon Valley is screwed as a place for investing in advanced science. "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?" concludes Blank. "The headline for me here is that Facebook's success has the unintended consequence of leading to the demise of Silicon Valley as a place where investors take big risks on advanced science and tech that helps the world. The golden age of Silicon valley is over and we're dancing on its grave.""
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Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over With Facebook IPO

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  • Facebook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by partofme (2643183) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:27AM (#40050505)

    The headline for me here is that Facebook's success has the unintended consequence of leading to the demise of Silicon Valley as a place where investors take big risks on advanced science and tech that helps the world. The golden age of Silicon valley is over and we're dancing on its grave

    Eh, just because Facebook is also used by millions of ordinary people doesn't mean it's not computer technology company and, even more so, doesn't help the world. In fact I think that Facebook has done immersive amount of good for the world. What have you done, exactly? This is extremely obvious to anyone who is older than 15 years old and especially for those of us who live overseas and have friends, family and people all over the world and helps to keep in touch with people easily (and no, I'm not going to bother them all by emailing them on little things).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by knuthin (2255242)

      This is extremely obvious to anyone who is older than 15 years old and especially for those of us who live overseas and have friends, family and people all over the world and helps to keep in touch with people easily (and no, I'm not going to bother them all by emailing them on little things).

      You make a valid point, but this quoted part is pure bullshit.

      The actual good Facebook has done is by contributing to projects like Cassandra and a bunch of work it did on MapReduce and Hadoop, memcached and what not. Visit their github.com [github.com] to check on that, though those aren't the only projects they worked on (more like, those are the projects they have started)

      • Re:Facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

        by partofme (2643183) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:43AM (#40050565)
        And this is the usual geek thinking. If it's not direct binary or code, it's useless. However, in real life there are tons of other factors to consider.
      • Re:Facebook (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ElBeano (570883) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:03AM (#40050651)
        Do you have Aspergers? High functioning Autism? Seriously, you dissed the connections Facebook facilitates (that were referred to in the parent post) as being "bullshit" in terms of importance. All that matters to you is the technology that Facebook contributes. Technology for what purpose and to what ends? Tools trump human beings and society? I'm sure that the biggest reason people use Facebook is for its connection facilitating function. Most people don't care a great deal about Facebook's technology contributions beyond Facebook itself. Like you, I do, but I never want to lose sight of the bigger picture. Have I misunderstood you somehow?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by knuthin (2255242)

          Maybe you have misunderstood me.

          The "connections" are a part of their business strategy. That's what they earn their revenues from: knowing who is interacting with whom, for what etc. So in a way, it is a very selfish (or mutual) thing to do.

          Contributions to projects is very selfless, because Facebook is not making direct profits from making the source available (they might be making money from the changes they make, but not from making the code usable to others)

          Most people do not care a great deal about Facebook's technology contributions

          Agreed. But who does? Most of the technolo

      • Re:Facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:37AM (#40050775)

        This is extremely obvious to anyone who is older than 15 years old and especially for those of us who live overseas and have friends, family and people all over the world and helps to keep in touch with people easily (and no, I'm not going to bother them all by emailing them on little things).

        You make a valid point, but this quoted part is pure bullshit.

        The actual good Facebook has done is by contributing to projects like Cassandra and a bunch of work it did on MapReduce and Hadoop, memcached and what not. Visit their github.com [github.com] to check on that, though those aren't the only projects they worked on (more like, those are the projects they have started)

        Dude, those are mere tools.

        They exist to DO THINGS.

        It's the THINGS that are important.

        • by Surt (22457)

          I think the point is some things are more important than others. e.g. mapreduce to build facebook is a net loss for humanity, but mapreduce to cure cancer is not.

          • Re:Facebook (Score:4, Insightful)

            by metlin (258108) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:26PM (#40054849) Journal

            I think the point is some things are more important than others. e.g. mapreduce to build facebook is a net loss for humanity, but mapreduce to cure cancer is not.

            And that's where I disagree. Facebook is also a net positive for humanity because it makes us more connected, and provides us with a social platform for people to interact and share content and collaborate socially.

            Human beings are social creatures, and is it any wonder that a social media platform like Facebook is so popular? Anything that makes us more interconnected and drives to humanity being a "singular" community is a net positive, IMO.

            Besides, curing cancer is great for the X% of people who suffer from cancer, while Facebook is great for pretty much anyone who wants to get online and interact socially. So what do you do once you've survived cancer? That's right, you can then hang out with your friends and family, which is what Facebook lets you do. ;-)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Alumoi (1321661)
      Posting on failbook that you're taking a shit is NOT keeping in touch with people. Mailing them when you have something important to share IS.
      • Posting on failbook that you're taking a shit is NOT keeping in touch with people. Mailing them when you have something important to share IS.

        Because hyperbole alone is a fantastic way to make a point.

        • So you are making the claim that people only posting updates or sending email when they have something actually relevant to say is hyperbole? What's your point, anyway?

          • by CptNerd (455084)
            I'd say the point is the poster gets to decide what's important and what's not, not you. And claiming that "irrelevant" posts are the majority of Facebook postings is hyperbole, or even demagoguery. Or worse, trollery of the lamest kind.
    • by Exitar (809068)

      "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?"

      FB is helping the world more than a cancer drug? Really?

      "Sorry dude, your illness should have been cured by now, but nobody is developing new drugs anymore. Anyway, you can still play Farmsville while you're waiting to die"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bing Tsher E (943915)

      What the heck is 'immersive amount of good'? Have you been hanging around people who use 'friend' as a verb too much lately?

    • by garaged (579941)

      As much as I like the utopia, facebook is by no means my first xommunication option, I was using gtalk, IRC and even skype way before facebook existed

      I have been in contact with old "friends" thanks to facebook in the last two years, but I dont think I won a lot by that, I was able to make it just OK the last 15 years I didn't knew anything about all of them anyway

      • by dave420 (699308)
        You are comparing real-time chat and voice communication with Facebook, which also offers those *and* a way to communicate with someone who's currently offline, share photos, videos, etc., and not to mention integration with pretty much every piece of hardware out there. You're being slightly disingenuous with your comparison.
    • That should be a law analogous to the Godwin law, that says: if you say "What have you done, exactly?" you lose.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't give credit to Facebook for that which existed long before them.
      There is no "innovation" behind Facebook, it is merely a social/business/etc contract between a vast amount of interested parties to create, maintain, and improve upon (in their own self interest) conduit for information storage and exchange between people.
      Why do they do this? Simple, information and advertising.
      Before Facebook there was Myspace, Geocities, ICQ/AOL Instant Messenger/etc. Email, Bulletin Board Systems and vast amount of we

      • by PCM2 (4486)

        There is no "innovation" behind Facebook, it is merely a social/business/etc contract between a vast amount of interested parties to create, maintain, and improve upon (in their own self interest) conduit for information storage and exchange between people.
        Why do they do this? Simple, information and advertising.

        People tend to confuse "innovation" with "invention." You don't have to do the second to do the first. Facebook as innovated a lot of things, from its business model to its technology. Look at HipHop, [facebook.com] for example. That's innovation by anybody's standards, but Facebook's track record for innovation is not limited to software. That's narrow thinking.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867)

      In fact I think that Facebook has done immersive amount of good for the world.

      By destroying humanity's concept of privacy, serving new forms of digital crack for the weak-willed to become addicted to, commercializing and commoditizing our relationships, and enabling a new golden age of corporate and government surveillance?

      What have you done, exactly?

      A lot more good than they have, that's for sure.

    • "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?" concludes Blank.

      So who will use Facebook when everybody's dead because the medicines that cured them weren't invested in and went bust?

      This is why he is not a millionaire VC. If anything, he's probably pissing on the tent because he bought FB at $45 yesterday before it dropped back to close at $38. Cry me a river, bitch.

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Since Facebook, I physically see my friends less often. I don't see that as a good thing.

      But you totally missed the point. Facebook has rewarded its creators and early investors with billions and they never delivered a physical product. Silicon valley was about developing and delivering physical products.

      If the investment community perceives that physical products are low-return options and things like Facebook are massively higher in return for a smaller investment, that's where they'll put their money.

    • Re:Facebook (Score:5, Insightful)

      by scamper_22 (1073470) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @06:13PM (#40053781)

      While Facebook is no doubt technology and very useful, there is point lurking in the article.

      There is 'shallow' innovation and 'deep' innovation.

      Deep innovation requires very specific knowledge and advanced study. I can't just wake up one day and decide to build a CPU company or GPU. I know the basics, but I have no idea where to start with manufacturing it, advanced optimizations... to make it a useful product. Similarly with the example in the article... that of advanced drugs.

      'Shallow' innovation is something a decently intelligent person can grasp in short time. Websites like Facebook are just that. Most of us could build Facebook. Most of us didn't of course, but we could have.

      I want to emphasize, I'm not saying shallow innovation is bad. Shallow innovation is good. I only use the word shallow in relation to the depth of knowledge needed to reasonably enter the field.

      Now if investors can make money on such shallow innovation, they're not likely to invest in the deep innovation. A valid point I think... but not one we can do much about. It's more a reflection of what is needed now in terms of the market and the lack of long term profits in long term R&D.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:31AM (#40050515)

    Morgan Stanley had to buy back all the stock to prevent it turning from Facebook into Faceplant. They'll have to sell it all over again.

    • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:54AM (#40050607)
      One of the biggest pieces of statistical bullshit is "market cap" when most of a company's shares are nonvolatile. In this case a market only exists in a fraction of the company, and the share price is unchanged. To argue that if the 10% of a company that is liquid shares is traded at X, its total value is 10X, is completely wrong, no matter how popular it is with people whose job it is to hype shares.

      The conditions under which Facebook would be really worth $100 billion are that somebody with $100 billion in cash was prepared to offer that much for it, and it was accepted. The IPO is, in effect, designed to prevent us finding out the true market value of the company. All we know is that people who almost all already had shares were prepared to exchange them for Facebook shares. Those people might have thought that their shares were about to tank, or that they might make short term profits. We don't know.

      The historical analogy, although the exact terms of the deal were very different, is the Time Warner/AOL merger. The merger valued the entire group at around $350 billion. It turned out that the analysts and the investors were comprehensively wrong.

      Don't get me wrong; in the Wall Street casino, people may get rich dealing in Facebook shares. But, as set up at the moment, the actual value of the company cannot be inferred from the share price, and all the predictions of a change in world culture are as reliable as the same predictions that were made about the AOL merger.

      • by ediron2 (246908) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:19AM (#40050969) Journal

        I watched the last 8 mins of trade and **SAW** the huge buys (didn't know who was making them at the time). Something's sour here, indeed.

        Having said that, either you're engaging in pureplay sophistry or your understanding of how stocks prices, market cap, and profit interact are pretty damn weak. Handwavy bullshit everywhere.

        Market cap is useful. Personally, I only care once I see P/E, which is a Share Price vs. Profit ratio. Newbie rule is that high P/E's (above 10-20) are signs of inflated stocks. Right now, stuff I buy has values like 12, 17, 11, 48, and 7. Seeing n/a or - makes an investor's job harder, since it means 'we lost money last year'.

        Applying just this rule, here's what we get: I was considering Red Hat (RHT - hate 'em, but they're 'executing' a profitable business better than Ubuntu or Suse), but dropped that idea because they've got a P/E of 71. Eew, Fsck That. Everyone else already is overpaying a 'but they'll grow' premium for RHT; so much so that RHT has to about triple in size to be worth my investing in a company I can't stand. OTOH, I overruled disdain and bought MSFT at a P/E of 11.

        From there, what you can do to find an economic edge is limitless. Stock trading's possibilities for seeking an edge via statistics and predictive models is the proverbial "elephants all the way down".

        Back to FB's value: Let me take your 2nd 'graf and say the truth vs. your spin: The conditions under which FB would really be worth $100B are that someone buys all shares available at the asking price associated with $100B, and/or if FB has profitability and business growth that fit such a share price. The first one's getting some serious propping up by institutional investors. That's spooky as fsck.

        So, let's look at Facebook's P/E: 88.xx -- (whistles /) Huh. That's pretty damn steep. It really is analogous to AOL-TimeWarner's albatross pricing. Or a bunch of dot-coms. But it's also close to RHT at 71. And freakin' AT&T is selling at a P/E of 48.

        Again, what's Facebook worth? Well, a good question is: Between RHT, T (AT&T) and FB (all overvalued according to P/E) : which one's going to do a better job of carving new income streams and profitabilities out of the next 3 years? And if FB deflates to 30 bucks a share, would you change your opinion if it was more profitable per share than T and RHT? If we shrink FB shares to make a P/E of 12, we get '

        No conclusions offered -- I'm just watching the show. Full disclosure: I own some MSFT and T, but no FB or RHT. My brother bought some FB, though. When I started writing this, I would have said 'dumbass brother'. Given the ways I could monetize a billion users without even touching their personal information... hmm.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        If I come to you and say I'll sell you a 10% share in my company for 10 billion dollars, and you agree, we are both indeed valuing my company at 100 billion dollars.

        It may not be a good idea, but everyone who bought FB stock is implicitly valuing FB at PRICE_PER_SHARE * NUMBER_OF_SHARES. Investors who understand this do not think that a high market cap, especially an outrageously high one, is a good thing.

      • by khallow (566160)

        One of the biggest pieces of statistical bullshit is "market cap" when most of a company's shares are nonvolatile.

        To the contrary, it's the single most important number for figuring out whether you're paying too much for a stock. If a) you value a company at X dollars, and b) the market cap is over that (or more accurately, not sufficiently under the market cap to give you a healthy premium), then that's a solid indication that you shouldn't touch the stock.

    • Actual buyback (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:01AM (#40050649)
      Sorry for double post. I just noticed the exact figures in the Telegraph:

      Share price implausible [telegraph.co.uk]. The tl;dr is that of $16 billion, nearly $12 billion had to be bought by the usual suspect banks: Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Among all the hype, that is actually a huge failure.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        The tl;dr is that of $16 billion, nearly $12 billion had to be bought by the usual suspect banks: Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

        Sounds like Facebook made a mistake changing their expected IPO price from $28~$35 to $34~$38
        The big banks stepped in to save face, which makes a mockery of all the talk about "intense demand from retail investors"

      • of $16 billion, nearly $12 billion had to be bought by the usual suspect banks

        So, actual market demand was for $4B. I know we can't simply say the market price was $38/4 but wow, maybe $7B or so @ ~ $19.

        Who here thinks Zuckerberg was a massive dick to somebody at GM a while back? Dish served cold and all that.

  • Venture capitalists' ability to make billions of dollars for no effort is being threatened!!11

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by partofme (2643183)
      For no effort? Excuse me, but venture capital is integral part of current day innovation and companies. Without that capital there would be tons of products and ideas that would never see the day. It's also one of the reasons why U.S. has climbed on top of tech industry.

      Also, it's not like they can loan money to every new comer. It takes time and work to evaluate potential ideas. There are risks involved. Yet, venture capital is one of the actual things that greatly increases innovation. But don't let tha
      • If only people could fund such ideas themselves and weren't fully dependent on an ownership class to set up anything bigger than a lemonade stand...

        • by drsquare (530038)

          There aren't enough resources in the world for everyone who wants to start up a business to get the funding. Even a dot-com start-up requires dozens of employees, server farms, electricity, software licences etc.

          A few successful investors rationing out those resources helps direct them to the most fruitful ideas. It doesn't always work, and plenty is wasted on bad ideas, but it's the most successful system we've discovered so far.

    • Venture capitalists' ability to make billions of dollars for no effort is being threatened!!11

      Yes, those greedy bastards - providing money to startups who otherwise might never get off the ground. I hate people like that!

      P.S. The hip term is "vulture capitalists" - if you're going to be snarky, at least do it right.

  • what? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:41AM (#40050549)

    I read the summary and am completely baffled by the train of thought.
    The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises (which themselves are unsupported conjecture).
    What is this insane troll logic?

    • If the money available for venture capital is limited, the conclusion follow perfectly from the premisses. It is just missing one conjecture, probably because the submiter didn't think he needed to make it explicit, people would just know it.

      Now, we have no actual evidence that the premises are true. We don't know if investing on the next facebook is safer than investing in silicon or hard core computing, and we don't know how limited venture capital is (in fact, it seems venture capital is too big for soft

  • by cualexander (576700) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:43AM (#40050557)
    They are usually incorrect unless it's a living thing. The PC has been dead more times than I can count. So has the web. Move along, nothing to see here folks.
  • by e**(i pi)-1 (462311) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:48AM (#40050589) Homepage Journal
    It will not only be important to estimate what "value" really is but how robust it is. If you make a technological leap which needs a lot of research investment and which is difficult to copy, then this is value which is robust. Real resources like oil or level of education are such robust values. FB has generated a lot of robust value in building up all the infrastructure and code. But the value of FB includes also networks of people which is also value but is fragile because it is based also on reputation and coolness. If you sit on a real goldmine, you do not have to be cool. You will make money. If you sit on a virtual goldmine like FB, you have to remain popular to please investors and make money. This makes me side more with Steve Blank in the economist opening statement. However, facebook now also has the power to grab and crush smaller competitors and harvaest their talent. The fact that they get the best in the industry might mean that they will start entering more robust markets like entertaining, news etc. This makes me believe also Ben Horowitz. We will have to wait and see.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:51AM (#40050599)
    Facebook must be offering something to the world or it wouldn't have hundreds of millions of active users. It isn't a cure for cancer but it isn't nothing either. The crux of the Blank's argument seems to be that venture capitalists like to invest in things that will make them money and that social media is now more likely (or perceived to be more likely at least) to turn a profit than advanced science. I'm tempted to say that if your cancer research doesn't appear to have any more potential than the next cockamamie up-and-coming social media company then maybe your cancer research doesn't deserve investors.
    • Re:well... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by plopez (54068) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:01AM (#40050643) Journal

      The problem with research is that it is open ended. You don't know what will happen. You have to explore many blind alleys before you you get something to work. But if you didn't explore them you'd never learn anything.

      If you know what the result will be, how long it will take, and how much it will cost it is not research.

  • by plopez (54068) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @08:59AM (#40050625) Journal

    From TFWU: "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?"

    How did the economy get so skewed that something that is a real product which can serve a social good is ignored for sheer speculation?

    And don't give me: "Rapid communications makes the economy more efficient" The economy was OK, even better, before Facebook. The economy even was OK before the internet, it just took a little longer to get things done( which may not be a bad thing). Also, efficient for who? Efficiency depends on where you are standing and how you measure it, e.g. immediate expenditure vs long term expenditure and immediate gain versus long term gain.

    Basically people are speculating on a toy.

    • by rmstar (114746)

      From TFWU: "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?"

      How did the economy get so skewed that something that is a real product which can serve a social good is ignored for sheer speculation?

      What actually happened is that the writer of that article outed himself as being a prick who'd never do anything, no matter how important, if there's no money in it for hi

    • It's the free market - fucking over progress for this quarter's profit since its conception. Humans work this way. We are idiots without being constrained.
    • The economy even was OK before the internet, it is just better now.

      There, FTFY. Did you remember how was it to get some new knowledge before the web? Or even how did you choose products, how did you buy important things? Facebook also had a huge impact at the world, it is just that it had a very small impact on the life of lots and lots of people, instead of having a big impact at the life of a small number of people.

      Now, about TFA, that drug would pay nothing for ten years, and then it would be HUGE. Much

  • Netscape redux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by optimism (2183618) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:33AM (#40050757)

    If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?

    Remember the spectacularly huge Netscape IPO in 1995. Then this quote would've been:

    If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas web browsers will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?

    Observe spectacular failure of VCs who failed to think for themselves, and just followed the herd long after the peak had passed.

    Same story, different year. The smart money is still investing in biotech, which actually has a real impact on our lives. Nothing to see here...move along...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The smart money is still investing in biotech, which actually has a real impact on our lives. Nothing to see here...move along...

      I don't know why you say this. The life sciences venture market is well known to be moribund (consider even just this one article [lifescivc.com]) with overall returns negative and venture funds dying. Your specific case is worse: the med device sector is where any action, such as it is in life sciences, is happening. Pharma and biotech are really in trouble. In fact the whole biotech subsector overall may historically never have made a profit, with the gains of a few offset buy the larger losses of the rest.

      Sadly the US

    • Re:Netscape redux (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chrisje (471362) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:32PM (#40051805)

      Indeed. Not only have bubbles like this come and gone since the Tulip bubble in the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie back in the fifteenhundreds, but the headlines are the same all the time. It feels like the "demise of tape" discussions I had for 16 years at HP, and every year some clown would come and tell me my job would be gone next month. Yet somehow these technologies survive, and yet somehow we all need a good old fashioned piece of hardware to run our software and networks on.

      The author of the main article suffers from a pure stroke of cognitive dissonance when this sentence is uttered: "The first is putting computer devices, mobile and tablet especially, in the hands of billions of people". The first argument for the demise of physical technology is the fact that physical technology is now finding its way into the hands of billions of people. That's just, well, ironic.

      I'd argue that sites like Facebook and the increasing digitization of all walks of life, be it in communication, documentation or content creation and the enjoyment thereof only spur the profitability of the Silicon Valley giants. Although I do object to the Silicon Valley moniker for any and all hardware development. It would behoove us to realize that the cathode ray tube was a British invention, the mouse/trackball was a Canadian idea, the LED was a Russian invention while LCD seems to have its roots in Austrian and Swiss research, with a lot of ideas from the Koreans and Japanese thrown in.

      So firstly Silicon Valley has never been the end-all-be-all of all electronics engineering, secondly the hardware business shows no signs of becoming obsolete any time soon. In short, the main article is self-aggrandizing on quite a few points. I am very happy not to be a student of Mr Blank.

      If Silicon Valley is teetering at all, it's down to geopolitical and macroeconomic developments that will see the end of the US as the absolute economic superpower on this planet. I worked at HP for years and years, but for quite a while now the most significant market for HP is the European Union. The GDP's of several Asian nations is steadily growing, the total GDP of the EU is larger than the US GDP and everywhere you see cracks in the US as a whole. Let alone all the unemployed, homeless and uninsured the US counts, but whenever I go to the US, I am struck with the disarray and decay that can be seen everywhere in that country.

      Having said that, I don't think the Facebook IPO will bankrupt Apple, HP, IBM, Dell, Canon, Samsung and quite a few other players just yet, so my musings on the balance of power in the world should be taken with quite the pinch of salt.

  • I'm noticing more hamsters doing their video stuff over iphones and neglecting amateur television (ATV). Yes, iPhone is easy and ATV takes work but there is loss of individuals doing hands-on experimentation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 19, 2012 @09:53AM (#40050859)

    This guy sounds like another tech hipster to me.

    No one will invest in a company making a super cancer vaccine? One would only make $100M from it? The author clearly knows nothing about the biotech field. People *are* investing in biotechs right now. The idea that people won't invest in other areas because one company made money is simply not in line with real world behavior going on right now.

    In terms of Facebook, we'll see how that whole thing pans out for the people who are making Mr Zuckerberg rich right now. I suspect that the Facebook IPO will fall into the category of "moving money from the unwise to the unscrupulous" (much like most of the earlier dotcom IPOs). The Facebook insiders are making money. The underwriters are making money. I don't think the people buying Facebook are going to make money.

    • There was a professor from Harved [wsj.com] who recently wrote a book making a similar, but IMO more realistic point. He said,

      "When it is more profitable to build an electric car than to invest in a credit card, we will know that the crisis is over,"

      America has a resource allocation problem, but it isn't a problem between biotech and cloud tech, it's a problem between mortgage backed securities and ALL tech. People are investing capital in meaningless loans, instead of building new things. That's a real drag on innovation in the country.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:02AM (#40050889) Journal
    combine the effects the article talks about with "Good Enough Computing" (GEC). GEC capped out printing technology when the dots were too small for people to see. We don't bother with 50,000 dpi printers because anything higher than 600 - 1000 is a complete waste of effort. The printing engines saturate the market, and the rate of profit falls in competition - the printers become expendable and the profit is then made on Ink. Not hardware. Ink. (I use iPhone and iPad generically in the following - I don't really own one or the other...)
    It used to be that really high end machines were needed to do audio synthesis. I now have a mellotron on my iPhone and iPad. The iPad, for audio editing, is GEC.
    It used to take a super high end computer and a fleet of striped SCSI drives to edit the simplest SD Video. Now, you can edit insanely high quality HD video on a fucking laptop. It is only a matter of time before I can edit video from a Red camera on an iPad. At that point, the iPad is GEC.
    Fashioning devices on a 3D printer is presently the domain of a laptop. It's just a matter of time before it is on an iPad or an iPhone.
    Again, the iPhone and iPad are GEC. The article talks about investments in things non-Web2.0, and it is largely correct. However, even the digital substrate of Web2.0 is under constraint of GEC. If you live 80 year from cradle to grave, that's about 29,220 days. If you were born with the ability to read from birth and read one book a day on a kindle or iPad and each book was about 5 megs on average - (picture books eat a lot of space compared to text) then you're only talking 146GB of storage. That's GEC...
    If you listen to music 16 hours a day from cradle to grave, that's only 28 TB @ 256kbps compression. And if you listen to every song twice, that's 14 TB. And if you listen to every song 4 times, that's only 7 TB. And if you listen to every song 8 times, that's 3.5 TB. And if you listen to each song 16 times, that's only 1.75 TB - a 2 TB drive can be had for less than $100. That's GEC....
    And video? Do the same math. If you watch a movie (or basically 2 hours of video) a day every day from cradle to grave, and it's 2GB per hour, that's 4GB per day, or about 117 TB. So, what will store a LIFETIME of entertainment? about 120 TB of storage. If the storage trends of the past 20 years hold, I would suggest that a 120 TB drive will be available for less than $250 (in 2012 dollars) in less than 10 years, possibly less than 5, and probably no more than 15 years.That's GEC in storage.

    Soooo, what happens when we put all that together? The internet will cease to be a space for file trading thanks to the concerted actions of governments and IP capital. File trading will go to Sneakernet, and the sneakernet will consist of PirateBoxes in cafes and friends attaching their Thunderbolt drives at home, and moving stupendous amounts of data between machines and watching them on flat screen TV or on their audio kit which will run off the wireless video card in their iPhone or iPad. GEC. Basically, innovation at that point, as in BASIC innovation will cease. Content, as in something stored, simply evapourates onto a "life drive" of media files. Encumbered with patents and a ceiling of perception created by the human sensorium, GEC will reign until the industrial system turns the planet into a smoking dead husk. The biosphere collapses, cities flood, people starve, but damn - did you see American Idol last night? Fuck - that chick sings like an angel...

    • Except the actual trend is moving everything to "the cloud", which is just a buzzword for giant mainframes that store not just your two terabytes of data, but two terabytes for everyone on the planet, call it 14 zettabytes. Then they make it available to you instantly on any platform without you needing to do anything to explicitly transfer your data. A kid born today won't know what a USB (or Thunderbolt) drive is any more than they would an 8-track tape.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:07AM (#40050913)

    Impartial, disinterested, university funded R and D - which is what everything from music synths to Google started out as:

    http://facts.stanford.edu/research.html [stanford.edu]

    -is a natural force for good in developed countries and it's never going to be "over" unless that developed country is "over" .

    The leveraging for "Yearbook On The Web !!! " -type opportunities to make money off people naive enough to surrender their most intimate details to a group of total strangers whose sole aim is to monetize same, well, that may be over.

    If you compare FB with Google, the differences tell the real story. FB could be replaced in functionality by any number of me-too--products because its peculiar success is not borne of any kind of technological breakthrough but only the fact that it, and not some other equally ordinary-technology product, was the victor in a product space with network effects strong enough to create a natural "winner take all" market.

    Meanwhile, Bing is still trying to be 1/10th as good as Google is at doing what it does, despite billions of dollars at the M$'s disposal and some of the best minds in the world working for them.

    When the story of the internet is told, it will go like this- DARPA, FTP, email, the web, HTML, Mosaic then Google. Those are the big events. Those are the technological breakthroughs that that literally changed the world. FB will be a footnote.

    So to the extent that FB's value is an exercise in bubble economics and phantom value, maybe this is the end of SV's love affair with this kind of thing. That proposition is dubitable since people with too much money generally earned it by doing wholly useless things like co-locating their servers closer to NYSE's servers to give them a multi-billion dollar edge when doing flash trading -

    http://theweek.com/article/index/204396/wall-streets-secret-advantage-high-speed-trading [theweek.com]

    and having custom FPGA made for them in order to grind out nanosecond advantages over their competitors in high frequency trading -

    http://www.impulseaccelerated.com/app_financial.htm [impulseaccelerated.com]

    so it's unlikely these same people are going to have the fine antenna necessary to distinguish innovations which create revenue opportunities by delivering real, ongoing value from those that have "Hindenberg " painted in man-sized letters on the side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F54rqDh2mWA [youtube.com]

    Long live the free market and real innovation delivering real value to the lives of real people . Here's to you.

    • Looking at your list, Facebook has a huge deployment of an instant messaging system using XMPP. If your list went FTP,SMTP,HTTP...XMPP rather than mixing protocols up with companies it might make more sense.

      The issue for Facebook, however, is that none of the other protocols made anybody silly rich, and XMPP is a freely available and very easy to deploy server based system. I do wonder how many "investors" realise just how much of Facebook's technology is replicable at very low cost.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @10:17AM (#40050955)
    I read the summary and am completely baffled by the train of thought. The conclusion doesn't follow from the premises (which themselves are unsupported conjecture). What is this insane troll logic?

    It's not insane logic at all. If you're an investor and you have $xK to invest what would you invest in? Hard high-tech like cancer research (lots of work, time and money, higher risk, low chance of success) or social media (much less work/time/money and a higher chance of success). Zuckenberg didn't get rich curing cancer, he did it inventing a social media website. This is why investors and entrepreneurs flock to social media projects and ignore the hard stuff.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nI2bVtQ6Kk [youtube.com]

    I don give a damn cuz I'm stone dead already...

  • and phrases like "golden age", "everything" in the text don't help either. When people start talking like that, I am always tempted to remind them how incredibly redundant we are on all levels. How absurdly whimsical our demands are that drive the market. That is that if you consider only one big scale that there is: which is survival of human race.

    Nothing is over until is over. Facebook grew up to the ability to sell shares. That's all that happened, nothing more. The fact that is the "biggest" in whatever

  • If the VCs you're talking to are all switching to social media now, you're probably talking to the wrong guys anyway. Sure, there might be a few who understand the risks and opportunities, but blindly following trends smells like ignorance, and ignorant investors are the worst you can get. If you have to follow the Silicon Valley model, concentrate on the folks who specialize on deals within your particular industry.

    Also, VC doesn't appear to be the smartest choice here anyway. Apply for grants, talk to
  • we are moving all the social needs that we used to do face-to-face onto the computer and this trend has just begun.

    Did I just imagine the social groups that built up around dialup BBSes (which is how I met my wife), Usenet, even MUDs and web forums before Facebook ever came along? People were griping that computers were eroding the value of face-to-face communication almost from the first email that was sent out.

    I'll certainly agree that Facebook has accelerated that trend, but it's a trend that began 30 years ago.

  • Hello, the 1990s called, they wanted their investment strategy back. Get with the times, man! Investing today means identifying a company that's climbing, showering the creator in money and hyping his product, pushing him to an IPO, hype it some more and milk it, then dump it, sell off the husk and move on to the next.

    The idea of "high risk" vanished from VC's considerations a while ago. By now, there's so many upstarts vying for your money that you can easily wait and see which ones will thrive and which o

  • This is far worse than a collapse of Silicon Valley. It is no exaggeration to say that this kind of reward for little more than exploiting the network effect (one's product or service becomes more valuable the more customers it has) enjoyed by the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is sending civilization down a rat hole of uncreative rent-seeking.

    If you're interested in a solution to this sh*t, try replacing all taxes with a use fee for property rights assessed by bids placed in escrow for their pu

  • This is nothing new it's long been known that in SV investors especially early stage ones want their money back with a profit IN MONTHS -- NOT IN YEARS. And this isn't just the culture of Silicon Valley, it's common around all of the United States -- a country of self-entitled cry babies who think the world owes them a living and who value material wealth and fame above all else but who want to put in fuck all effort to get it -- a country who's debts now greatly exceed it's entire GDP, a nation that has b

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 19, 2012 @12:17PM (#40051693) Homepage

    Facebook stock is going to tank.

    They opened with a price/earnings ratio of 92. (Closed around 88, as the stock price dropped from 42 to 38). A normal P/E ratio for a successful large company is between 10 and 20. (Google is at 18, Microsoft at 10, IBM at 15, Apple 13, News Corp. 16).

    What this means is that Facebook has to increase their revenue by a factor of 6. They can't increase their user base by that much; there aren't enough people on the planet.. Their Alexa traffic peaked in mid-2011, so they're no longer growing. Their revenue per ad is dropping. General Motors just dumped Facebook as an ad medium because it was ineffective. Facebook has lately been increasing the page space devoted to ads. Myspace tried that before they tanked.

    We've probably seen the peak of ad-supported businesses. There's only so much ad spending in the world to compete for. That industry is not the future. It's the past. Like the "house prices can only go up" crowd.

    It's important to look at key ratios, like P/E and median house price / median income. Those tend to stay in a narrow range over decades, and when they get too high, it's a bubble.

    We warned you. You didn't listen. Now suffer. Downside [downside.com]

    • by ediron2 (246908)

      Maybe.

      OTOH, they've got a billion customers with authenticated accounts. They could implement mobile purchasing, federated identity (communicate with your friend via any/all contacts they have in FB: no more address books and phone numbers!).

      P/E is useful. But there are a substantial number of companies with high P/E's. AT&T, Red Hat, Amazon (is far over 100).

      As for unrealistic market caps for someone making pennies per customer: Pepsico has a similar net worth and they're a 2nd tier sugar-water reta

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