Two years ago to the month, bitcoin was in the midst of a surge that put some of the frothiest bubbles of all-time to shame. The unprecedented run saw the price of a single bitcoin swell from just under $1,000 at the beginning of 2017 to over $20,000 towards the end of the year.
In 1999, 547 companies rushed towards public markets looking to capitalize on the zenith of the dotcom era. The vast majority of those companies were comprised of young tech darlings and, all told, companies that went public in 1999 took in a record haul of $108 billion.
The idea of a “connected world” has taken many forms over several millennia. In the 4th century BC, trade between regions of Asia and parts of Europe and Africa expanded considerably, connecting foods, cultures, fabrics, metals and fragrances across three formerly detached continents. When Spain and Portugal became interested in finding a direct sea route to Asia in the 15th century, the known world expanded, and the Eastern and Western hemispheres were suddenly linked.
Ben Horowitz, famed entrepreneur and venture capitalist, once quipped that as a startup CEO he “slept like a baby [because he] woke up every two hours and cried.” As many others at the head of early-stage businesses can attest, Ben isn’t overreaching all that far in his comparison. While many factors play into the often-disrupted sleep patterns of entrepreneurs, perhaps the most jarring is the fact that the vast majority of early-stage companies are destined to flop. Statistically speaking, nine out of ten startups will fail.
Invincible. Infallible. Unshakeable. When the tech heavyweights stepped up to fight nearly ten years ago, they were substantially leaner in almost every measurable category. Market caps were deflated following a bloody bear bath; earnings were paltry and, in many cases, non-existent; and influence on Main Street, Wall Street and Capitol Hill were meaningful but not, by any means, overwhelming.