How the Dot-Com bubble became the rise of Lean (and what corporate innovators can learn from it)
Unless you’re either an economist, work in the financial markets, or is a modern economy history buff, chances are you’ll have a short-term memory for these kinds of things, but working for many years as a trader and portfolio manager, most of the economic crisis that happened during my adult life are still very vivid memories in my brain (and also the reason I insanely called my friends to buy stocks when the COVID-19 outbreak collapsed the markets — you’re welcome for the 40% there, buddies).
When I decided to leave the stock market to build startups in the early 2010s, the story of the 2000 Nasdaq dot-com bubble started to pop up again through readings and random conversations. But this time it had a different approach to it, one that only began to make sense when I started building startups myself.
I knew of course that there had been massive investments happening in these new promising internet tech companies that weren’t really turning a profit, but because the promise of the internet was so huge, all the investors ran to pour their money in, gushing for an IPO exit that was happening pretty fast at the time (three years for Amazon from founding to IPO, and just one year for Netscape to be trading on Nasdaq). There was liquidity in the market and investors were ignoring all investment fundamentals, creating this giant, overpriced, bubble that hit a 400% gain between 1995 and its peak in March 2000, bringing some companies to reach a Price-to-Earnings ratio of over 200. Only to drop 78% by 2002, giving up all its gains.
What I was hearing now was a different story though. It wasn’t just so that this new World Wide Web created an irrational exuberance that made markets skyrocket and crash, but a lot more on how its disruptive power crumbled old paradigms of building innovative businesses and shifted us head-first into the Information Age and into becoming a network society. But what happened?
The business side of the story
Until the dot-com crash, every time we were to build a business, any business, we started with a full-blown business plan. PowerPoint charts and presentations, Excel spreadsheets with promising long-term financial projections, and a very…