Bubble talk from the resistant and the insistent

Once again, some are popping the question: Is there a tech bubble?

• Not surprisingly, big-time VCs say nay. Both Marc Andreessen and Ron Conway have tried to make the case this week. “Tech stocks are trading at a 30-year-low when compared to the multiples of industrials,” Andreessen said Tuesday at a Wired conference in New York. “It’s the weirdest bubble when everyone hates everything.” Zynga‘s reception on Wall Street might illustrate his point: The San Francisco social-games maker, in which Andreessen Horowitz invested, had a dud of an IPO, and its shares have been on a wild ride since. (Its shares are trading slightly higher at $8.36 as of this post, 12 percent lower than its closing price of $9.50 on its first day of trading in December. It and other newly public tech companies such as online-deals company Groupon have been on the same stock-market roller-coaster.) But then again, Zynga in March bought OMGPOP, maker of  the “Draw Something” app, less than two months after the app’s introduction.

Conway reportedly said Monday at a conference in Los Angeles: “We are nowhere near a bubble. The companies getting funded have sales and profits.” Conway, by the way, was an investor in Instagram, the photo-sharing app that was snapped up last month by Facebook for $1 billion even though it has never brought in sales and profits. (At the time, Chris O’Brien of the Mercury News popped this question: Is the mobile-app bubble here? Possible answer: Last week, 1-year-old Viddy, which has been called the Instagram of video sharing, reportedly raised funding that gave it a valuation of $300 million.)

• In a piece titled “A Human’s Guide to the Tech Bubble” BuzzFeed’s John Herrman writes, “Nobody wants to admit to being part of a bubble. It’s like asking people if they’re hipsters.” Herrman also warns about how the JOBS Act — which contains a crowd-funding provision with, as O’Brien also recently wrote about, little oversight — could inflate the bubble: “Soon, every TechCrunch commenter with a Hedgeable account is going to feel like he could be the next Marc Andreessen.” And we know how Andreessen feels about bubbles.

• Meanwhile, former TechCrunch writer-turned VC MG Siegler dismisses bubble talk in general, cherry-picking excerpts from long-ago articles about the stock prices/valuations/purchase prices of companies such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Skype and Twitter as proof that those who dare even raise concerns about such things are “fear-mongering.” Clearly, now it’s all settled.


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