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It's Official: Welcome to the 'Technology Bounce Back'

The time is again ripe for agile new technology enterprises to flourish, says Jeremy Geelan

All the myriad commentators who monitor Internet technologies and the i-Technology companies on the NASDAQ doubtless have their own private cluster of indicators that they use to take a weather-check on the overall state of the industry. For some, it's as simple as looking at the NASDAQ index level. This (wholly understandable) approach is the one adopted by SYS-CON's own Roger Strukhoff, who wrote recently:

After going over 5000 at the height of the dot.com bubble, we all know that it plunged precipitously and consistently for the next 18 months. Any hope of a quick recovery was dashed by 9/11, and then a new flicker of hope was extinguished when war came in March 2003. Since then, the NASDAQ's most important numbers have been 2000, 2000, and 2000. The first of the three numbers represents the year of its peak, the second the level at which it settled, and the third the level at which it is apparently going to stay forever.

For others, it's more a matter of looking for the "million tiny points of light" that together will arguably provide more warning of better times ahead than any mere stock index can ever do. And this, you will have guessed, is the tack I prefer to take.

Recently I've become increasingly convinced that, even though at this writing HP has just cut 14,500 jobs and four research projects from its HP Labs organization, those points of light can be found everywhere - not only in the i-Technology giants like Microsoft and the middleweights like Macromedia but also, perhaps the best indicator of all, among the renewed trickle of start-ups.

Consider Microsoft (or Sun, for that matter). Redmond has stepped up its pace of hiring, adding nearly 4,400 employees worldwide, and plans to continue expanding at about the same rate in the year ahead. Sun, in the meantime, has - as Ajit Sagar discusses in this issue - started to put its cash hoard to good use by buying SeeBeyond.

Macromedia, poised to consolidate its world-class product set into Adobe this fall, if the stockholders of both companies give the go-ahead next month, has proved that its innovative and customer-focused approach to Web technology results in ever-increasing millions of users being empowered to create truly sophisticated interactive content that was never before possible.

Just as it's a great time to be a developer - as JDJ's Yakov Fain reports, "If last September I was calling the Java job market healthy, today's market is hot" - it is again a great time to be running (or getting hired by!) a start-up. There are several dozen companies now whose upward trajectory has followed that of founder Murugan Pal's SpikeSource, which "productizes" open source software. SpikeSource began only a year ago by closing a $12 million Series A funding round and has not looked back since.

Likewise consider how LinuxWorld Magazine editorial advisory board member Andy Astor has, with his co-founder Dennis Lussier, recently launched EnterpriseDB to leverage PostgreSQL's community and BSD license into a PostgreSQL-based database that aims to out-Oracle Oracle (no less). A start-up, however experienced its management team, doesn't just take aim at a multibillion-dollar company like Larry Ellison's powerhouse on a whim; on the contrary, like SpikeSource, EnterpriseDB is convinced that its timing is technologically propitious and that its economic prospects are bright.

On a smaller scale, JDJ's Jason Bell has in very hands-on fashion demonstrated his faith in the future of i-Technology by founding a B2B auction site for the airline industry. It's based on 100% Java and uses as many open source libraries as possible so there is no major financial outlay; even so, what Bell is doing is lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness. "Let the NASDAQ stay flat at 2000," he is in effect saying, "but that doesn't mean the time is not ripe for an agile new technology enterprise to flourish."

When a million Murugan Pals, Andy Astors, Dennis Lussiers, Jason Bells, and Yakov Fains light such candles simultaneously, the glow soon becomes visible to even the gloomiest of prognosticators.

As the old joke goes, "Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." But some of us - and I am one - are convinced. The technology bounce back has already begun, and is in full flow all around us.

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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