Fortune Mag Bullish on Technology

I was fascinated by the take on the tech industry in David Kirkpatrick’s recent story for Fortune magazine: This Tech Boom Has Legs. While it’s true, as Marc recently noted, that Web 2.0 appears to be reaching a bubble level of hype, Kirkpatrick nonetheless notes good prospects for the adoption of technology, especially because of emerging markets:

The tech boom now underway is profoundly different from any that has come before. It is broader and probably longer-lasting in its impact on tech companies, and more transformative macroeconomically. There are two reasons. First, everybody wants technology. And second, technology has become radically easier to create… Just about every government and company worldwide now realizes that technological excellence is critical for competitiveness.”

I saw this first hand on my recent visit to the Basque country in Spain. These guys have been thinking very creatively about how to bring new economic life to their region. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is not only a modern cathedral (one of the few buildings I’ve been in that creates the same kind of awe), it’s also a testament to the power of thoughtful long term planning by local governments. Bilbao, largely a forgotten city, stepped up to compete with high-profile locations like Venice, dug deep, and landed the museum, which now brings in more than a million tourists a year. It was the first step in revitalizing the local economy.

Now they’ve turned to tech. On a much smaller scale, my visit was part of an effort to support the burgeoning technology community in this northwest corner of Spain. I had an enthusiastic audience of about 500 people–well informed, thoughtful developers ready to take their place on the world stage. And it was amazing that it was the Basque government that is funding the initiative to bring outside speakers to this part of the world.

I should also add that Kirkpatrick’s article is consistent with Carlota Perez’s analysis of bubbles, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, which argues that bubbles are an inevitable part of the redeployment of capital during truly transformative revolutions, and are followed by a long “golden age” as the bubble-funded technology is successfully deployed.