Reporters' Roundtable: The bubble episode

LinkedIn went public last week, raising $352 million and igniting talk that we're entering another period of tech market froth, like we had in 1999. Are we indeed? CNET's Jim Kerstetter and HBR's Eric Hellweg join the discussion.

Are we in another tech bubble? Is money in technology flying around the same way it was back in 1999, making people rich beyond their dreams--and beyond what they deserve? The LinkedIn IPO underlined the question. The company, founded in 2003, finally went public last week, raising $352 million at its offering. The stock quickly shot up, igniting talk that we are, indeed, in a tech bubble. We're also expecting a very frothy IPO for Zynga, and eventually for Facebook.

Bubbles are about more than the public stock market, though. Tech companies start with private money from investors previously made rich when their companies were acquired or went public, and from venture funds investing money from pensions, college endowments, and the like. And now there are also private exchanges for start-up shares, the very existence of which is, to some, another indication of froth in the market. And a bubble.

So that's what we're discussing today: Are we in a technology bubble? If so, is it good or bad? And what have we learned from the last tech bubble, which was only about 10 years ago, that we can use to be smarter this time around?

I have two great guests to discuss this topic, both of whom are survivors from Bubble 1.0, as am I. In the studio with us, visiting from our Boston bureau, is CNET News Executive Editor Jim Kerstetter. And joining us via Skype is Eric Hellweg, the editor of the Harvard Business Review's Web site, HBR.org.

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Some of our discussion points

What is a bubble? Are we in one?

What indicators do you look for to call a bubble? How are they faring now?

Do we need IPO activity to have a bubble? What about the role of mergers and acquisitions in bubbles?

Role of venture capital and "angels."

Does the public know what it's doing when it comes to investing in new tech issues?

What does the LinkedIn IPO mean for tech?

Was it a good IPO? (See: LinkedIn Just Got Screwed Out Of $130 Million.)

Discuss these recent IPOs: Yandex; Freescale

What should you expect for these upcoming IPOs: Zynga, Facebook, Groupon?

Should Twitter go public?

Effect of private share markets like SharesPost and SecondMarket?

What have we learned from the last tech bubble, which was only about 10 years ago, that we can use to be smarter this time around?

Are bubbles, in fact, good for innovation?

Further reading

Wrap-up
Follow me on Twitter for more news on Reporters' Roundtable. E-mail roundtable@cnet.com with your ideas for shows!

 

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