The second half of Zook’s book was easy to swallow but tough to digest without a little discomfort. Having seen many of the aspects first hand, I find it difficult to accept some of the ‘environmental’ factors that he calls out as short-sided economic planning in the emerging internet age. The push-pull relationship between investors and technology companies often openly ignored some of the fundamental, established practices that kept the doors open for years at traditional brick and mortars. Some attention was given in the book to the complicated nature of venture capitalism, but I’m hoping in class we can discuss the nuanced role of core employees within the financed companies. Additionally, investment funds were often spent for the sake of depletion, in an attempt to cast a wider net for the next round of funding.
It is surprising that the book ends so abruptly without exploring the implications of the dot-com crash. Expectations by both investors and employees were seriously altered as a result of unusually high returns and baseless salaries. The book was published before the current financial situation could be seen, but Greenspan cut interest rates as a direct result of the financial crisis in the tech sector. The low interest rates fueled a sharp increase in real estate sales, with many nontraditional (including subprime) loans getting approved. It took awhile for the process to occur on a national level, but the fallout includes the current $700 billion bank bailout. It’s a bit off topic, but relevant when considering the geographical implications.