Is there more going on here than one company's pratfall and a backlash against dot-com financing? Maybe so. The IPO surges of the 1980s and late 1990s were fueled by companies addressing big, underserved markets--for computing power, software, networking technology and Internet services. "There are fewer of those now," says venture capitalist Gene Frantz, at Texas Pacific Group.
Take heart, young investor. The absence of blockbuster IPOs isn't necessarily a bad thing. First, some of what Wall Street offers up to the public is invariably just silly. "If someone came up with an Internet-enabled fork, I suspect they would have had a billion-dollar valuation," says Stuart Madnick, an IT professor at MIT. Innovation is still happening, says Madnick--it's just happening at big companies. Although dozens of start-ups tried their hands at digital music, he notes, Apple Computer left its "nimble" competitors in the dust. On the enterprise side too, innovation is increasingly coming from big companies. Keep an eye on major IT players as well as garage-side innovators. --Rob Herzberg, firstname.lastname@example.org