Familiar Signs of a Bubble

10:15 AM It's another social-media IPO, except that people love this one

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

June 7, 2012

2 Min Read
Familiar Signs of a Bubble

10:15 AM -- By now, you've heard about Ponzify, right?

It's the next hot Silicon Valley IPO. We know because the title on its S-1 says so.

It's a product of the social media bubble -- and yes, there is a bubble. I'm so tired of people even questioning that.

How do we know? Light Reading was born of the 1999 optical networking part of the dotcom bubble, so we can recognize the signs.

They're all in the Ponzify S-1. Venture capitalists threw money at the founders just for existing in the right space. The company covers up those pesky losses with more meaningful, non-GAAP (i.e., made-up) measures. It's even got arbitrary metrics to track progress, since revenues can't tell the story properly: "For instance, KonBuy (short for 'Konfirmation Bias') scores the popularity of apps and websites based on whether their titles are intentionally misspelled portmanteaus."

The worst part is that the IPO proceeds would be spent on Dig Dug, Dragon's Lair and Frogger. Video games! Actually, that's OK; the problem is that their taste in games sucks. Sure, they anticipate having capacity for two Tron machines, but no Tempest or Gravitar? For shame...

Yeah, Ponzify is fake -- way fake. It's a satire published recently on McSweeney's.

It's playing off an overenthusiasm that cycles through every industry, but especially technology. Anyone else remember the investment banking commercial, circa 2000, where a fictitious stock was a "buy" because it had too much fiber? "They're ready to grow," the narrator said smugly, showing off the keen thinking of the bank's analysts. Were they ready to be wiped out by the fiber glut, too? The commercial skipped that part.

Likewise, Ponzify's phony S-1 has this: "We give away the product for free, then lure advertisers with the promise of connecting them to millions of people who hate to pay for things. Amazingly, it works."

Tech markets are lifeboats: Until the boat is sinking, everybody assumes there's room for one more. It'll play itself out, and the Light Reading readers who lived through this already with Corvis or Nortel or the old Lucent can take smug comfort in knowing they haven't climbed aboard this time.

Or you can invest in Ponzify. Its Twitter buzz is amazing.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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