These People Bought Tickets Before the World Was Ending
A dispatch from Web Summit and a few thoughts on Twitter
Over the past year as tech stocks have been cratering, I’ve been struck by how copacetic the tech set seems when they gather with each other. I’ve written about noshing on sushi while the world is supposed to be crumbling and the indefatigable whirring at the Collision Conference in Toronto. I just got back from Web Summit in Lisbon last night and I have to say it was a similar vibe except we were eating ceviche and pork this time.
I’ve yet to see terror in anyone’e eyes — even as layoffs are rippling across the globe this week. Twitter unceremoniously fired many of its employees and Stripe announced that it was laying off 14% of its employees.
Josh Wolfe, the co-founder of Lux Capital, looked out onto the crowd gathered for our panel and told them that they might lose their jobs. I didn’t hear gasps.
Walking together, Wolfe and I wondered who exactly were these 70,000 people who traveled to Lisbon to bop around expo centers and listen to the tech elite pontificate? Hadn’t they gotten the word that the party is ending?
One attendee pointed out to me, well, most people bought their tickets a long time ago.
Bullish behavior was alive and well.
Cathie Wood, the founder of ARK Invest, promoted her new public-private crossover fund at Web Summit. She’s doing retail investors the great favor of giving them a chance to get exposure to the wildly overvalued Twitter take-private. If there were ever a case of adverse selection in investing it would have to be Wood’s latest fund.
Wolfe — who is simultaneously an optimist about the future of technology and a pessimist about people — is preparing for a dot-com level unwinding.
He texted me after our hang:
Investors are going through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
And it seems like far too many people are still stuck in a state of denial. Wolfe is betting that active managers will come out of the crisis on top and that Wood will be one of the poster children for this unraveling.
My Twitter Feed Is Just Everyone Fighting About Twitter
I’m trying to not get overwrought about the situation at Twitter. Ultimately I don’t think the success or failure of Twitter will bring about the end of the world.
Here’s my perspective: