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When the Tech Rapture Comes, Can I Have Your Stock?

Should Silicon Valley panic yet? Probably. Will it? Not yet.

There is an unsettling new show premiering on HBO next month, based on the Tom Perrotta book called “The Leftovers,” in which the Rapture actually happens and those left behind have to deal with, you know, being the ones left behind.

In the trailer below, the narrator notes: “Two percent doesn’t sound like much, but two percent of the entire planet, of every person on it, that’s more than the world’s 10 largest cities combined. It’s 140 million people — and like that, they were gone.”

While it’s not nearly as dramatic, billions of dollars in value suddenly disappeared yesterday as the stock in a slew of Internet giants was abandoned by once happy investors.

Some got off easy — gaming company Zynga was down four percent, Amazon was down 1.6 percent, Netflix was down 1.7 percent and Facebook was down two percent.

Others had it much harder: Yahoo was down 6.6 percent, security company FireEye was down 23 percent, AOL and Groupon were down 21 percent, Twitter was down 18 percent and King Digital was down 13 percent.

And not everyone was impacted — Google gave up less than one percent, Apple was down one-third of one percent and Microsoft was actually up one percent.

That did not stop the wailing and moaning from commencing on cue, with the talk of bubbles popping and IPO windows closing, both of which were true, especially after the stellar stock returns of 2013 for the digital sector.

As I noted on January 2 in a post:

The upward trend has some investors worried that a downturn will follow, especially as some startups receive valuations of many billions of dollars without much, if any, revenue. Some in 2013 have compared the situation to the Web 1.0 bubble, 15 years ago, when many subpar companies went public.

Later, in another stock post about nobody knowing what the more jarring ups and downs of 2014 meant as yet, I wrote:

You get the idea — you can cherry-pick your way to disaster or just make the simple point that things are not very clear and it is probably not a good idea to make casual predictions that it will all have a major impact until, you know, it does. While tech stocks are down as a larger group, for sure, it’s still rather shifty at this point.

Which it still is, except decidedly more shifty in a scary way. Should Silicon Valley panic yet? Probably. Will it? Not yet, at least until the early summer results are in or if those companies trying to IPO — Box, Zendesk, GoPro — do not.

As I also noted:

Will the party stop soon? Probably not while big companies need to grow and sometimes have to buy that growth and the innovation that goes along with it. And not while there are some pending tasty treats to eat up, like Alibaba. Or when the next hot startup appears and gets pursued by a pack of VCs like the last sugar donut after a rave.

Still, bad times, too: IPO-bound companies with big losses but great promise — like Box — will get kicked around a bit, while similar newly public ones like Workday … will get roughed up as well. And silly startups will get squeezed out, as they probably should.

In other words, those not worthy will most definitely be left behind.

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