Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Dot Com Bubble Burst

I doubt if there are too many people out there who doesn’t already know quite a bit about the Occupy Wall Street movement that took place around the end of last year. It was labeled as America’s own movement compared to that of Tahirir square in Egypt that saw the end of Hosni Mubarak’s long hold, for good or for bad that’s yet to be determined.  The question is – why? What might have caused this sudden change of events in the great land of opportunity – the sole superpower?  The answer to this question is not a simple one. Whether an individual decided to participate in the Occupy movement or not, there’s little doubt that there is a general concession among ordinary people that the disparity among classes – primarily focusing on wealth – is getting bigger and bigger, with rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. 

The answer to that question is neither simple nor straight forward. However, it is not difficult to figure out that in the corporate world a relatively small group of people controls majority of the cash flow and manages most of the tangible wealth while the rest have little choice but to become the cards of their hands – being played as they wish.  When things look good they take credit for the success and are rewarded with hefty bonuses, when things look bad they get to truncate workforce in their quest to make things look profitable to the investors and again receive hefty bonuses for making it look good. Talk about a fair deal!

Anyway, before discussing the occupy wall street it is important to look a little back to cover two major events in the recent history in the economy of America.  In this article I’ll briefly visit the circumstances of the two market falls – the dot com burst starting around 1998 and the real state bubble burst starting around 2007.
In the year 2000 when dot com bubble burst was going on in full swing I was right in the middle of it all, scared, affected, driven, suffered and finally jabbed right into the face, eventually made my way out of the burst into my new country Canada. At that time I wasn’t fully sure what had hit us but later as things settled down and everybody had time to think the truth started to become very apparent. Too many companies had mushroomed with similar ideas and started their journey with the money borrowed from venture capitalists and failed to bring any reasonably good product in the market before the funding wasted away.  Even the ones that did release some working products they faced stiff competition with other similar products. In such a situation only the best survives and most others perish, with all its ship load of contributors, investors and workers. With that coupled with high compensation for the high ups, offering public shares even before any tangible product was created, and irrational expectation of earnings – everything chipped into the downfall. At the end thousands were out of work, many companies closed.

At this point I must elaborate on the two occasions where I had lost my jobs. The first company was working on to create a new kind of search engine, the novelty of which I was unable to figure out even after working for six months. Everything looked about the same as other ones already in the market with majority quickly disappearing in the oblivion.  I wondered if an insignificant IT professional like me could see it then why couldn’t all the talented venture capitalists.  I guessed they had taken a chance, just in case some miracle had happened.  None did. Eventually the investors figured out they weren’t about to experience any miracle and quickly backed off and I was out looking for work – along with everybody else, must have been a few hundred. That made it even difficult, because too many people were looking for work in an already terrified market.

I ended up getting another position with yet another dot com running with venture capitalist money. This one looked more prospective.  I even heard they were about to get a buyer – a really good thing, sure sign of success. Not sure how things would have gone if not for the terrorist’s attack on the world trade center on September 11 2001 but after that already shaky market turned shakier and worst of all, our potential buyer backed off. So much for success! The company went belly up as they could not find anybody else to finance. The good – I bought a laptop for fraction of the price it was selling in the market from the now defunct company.  The bad – I was out looking for a job again and so were hundreds of others from my previous company. This time things became really personal. Anyway, had I not been working as a foreign worker and getting squeezed by the parent company that sponsored me and only provide a mere percent of the gain for my services I probably wouldn’t be too sour. The loot was all gone and I got barely any share of that. Some did get rich, bilking the cash cows to the max.

 Me and my misfortune!

I’ll continue this article to talk about the real state bubble.

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