Audit Notes: Tech bubbles, WSJ reality shows

Twitter launches like it's 1999 all over again

Here are some facts from Peter Eavis’s good, skeptical curtain raiser on the Twitter IPO in today’s New York Times:

“worth more than many storied American corporations, like Alcoa and Harley-Davidson,” “has racked up more than $300 million of losses in the last three years — and may not show real profits until 2015,” “The company could start trading with a market value of around 11 times its expected 2015 revenue.”

If you’re thinking of trying to day-trade this sucker—much less buy for the long haul—read this fascinating quote from Gregory Zuckerman’s good WSJ piece this weekend on signs that we’re in another tech bubble:

“It’s fascinating to me that today’s mini-mania includes shares of Amazon, Netflix and Priceline that have previously peaked and crashed before—in some cases they’ve peaked and crashed twice before,” says Darren Pollock, portfolio manager at Cheviot Value Management. “Stocks like these have again captured the imagination of speculators. We’re skeptical that there is enough underlying intrinsic value to many of the highfliers to support today’s prices.”

Priceline has a P/E of 35. Netflix’s is 282. And Amazon’s is a mere 1,261. Twitter will not have a P/E or even a forward P/E because it has no “E” and won’t until at least 2015.

— Aaron Elstein of Crain’s New York Business creates a Dr. Doom index to see how stock values correlate to Google searches for Nouriel Roubini:

Mr. Roubini, a New York University economist, became famous when he was one of the few to correctly predict the 2008 crash. Over the years, the public’s interest in Mr. Roubini’s work has ebbed and flowed, but times of diminished interest—as measured by searches for his name on Google—have come shortly before stocks hit rough patches.

In March 2010, Mr. Roubini’s popularity hit a post-2008 low. Three weeks later, the S&P 500 topped out, starting falling and didn’t recover its losses until December of that year. Likewise, in May 2011, Mr. Roubini’s popularity bottomed out just as the market was about to turn stormy—and investors didn’t recoup their losses until the following February…

So: The latest Google Trends reading shows that last month produced the fewest searches for Mr. Roubini’s name since July 2007, which was three months before the S&P 500 hit a high it didn’t reach again until March 28 of this year.

And, by the way, the title of Mr. Roubini’s latest report is “Bubbles in the Broth.”

The Wall Street Journal tells Nieman Lab about its first reality show, a not-so-riveting program called WSJ Startup of the Year, which Adrienne LaFrance says is “a bit closer to C-SPAN than E!.”

Which isn’t good, since the Celebrity Journal really tried to spice things up by adding terrible rapper and notorious bankrupt MC Hammer as startup “mentors.”

Here’s where the WSJ thinks it’s going with this (emphasis mine):

We want to own [this area of coverage]. We want to be the one-stop shop for people who care about entrepreneurship. Between The Accelerators blog, WSJ Startup of the Year, the stories the startup team produces, our tech coverage — plus we have something called Venture Wire about the financing of startups — we think the Journal has a real opportunity to be the essential place.

Right. Between lame reality shows and the Accelerators blog, the WSJ ought to be able to fend off Inc., FastCompany, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Black Enterprise, LinkedIn, et al., and get a lock on this market straight away.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,