Is there a bubble looming in the tech world? Several reporters here have posed that question repeatedly over the past few months in our editorial meetings. We have not assigned an article. Why?
Bubbles are an expected part of our market system (there's always a bubble somewhere). Entrepreneurs see great possibilities, and investors race to fund them. Many of these businesses fail, and much money is lost. Our purpose at Fast Company is not to chronicle this constant rise and fall but to try leading our readers through the tumult, to see the big-picture, long-term changes that emerge from this noisy, messy, creative process.
We're mindful that speculation about bubbles is a staple of other media. But where else can you read about Second High in Beijing and how the gaokao, China's college-entrance exam, is defining the next generation of Chinese leaders? Or about Harold Vinegar's quixotic effort to turn Israel into an energy powerhouse via natural-gas innovations? Or about the cutting-edge experiments in neuromarketing at companies from Intel to Frito-Lay—some of which don't want you to know their secrets?
This is not to say that a bubble does not concern us. Given the valuation leaps at LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as analogous jumps at still-nascent web businesses and app firms, the potential for one is an interesting question. A burst bubble can have painful, long-lasting impacts. But as we have learned repeatedly in the past, bubbles can rarely be prevented or even protected against. At the same time, history has shown that even in the wake of the worst bubble collapse, great new ideas and businesses emerge.
Accepting this turbulence is part of a creative, productive life in the 21st century. The companies—and people—that succeed now are the ones that can best adapt to this kind of constant flux. Fast Company is dedicated to keeping you abreast of the exciting new developments that truly matter, regardless of market conditions. Put simply, this sort of dynamism and eclecticism is nothing more than a reflection of the modern world of business.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.