OPINION

Calling All Tech Optimists: Come Out of Your Bunkers

As everyone knows well, there was a time when you couldn’t swing a hastily written business plan without finding someone so pie-eyed optimistic about the tech sector they’d break open their kid’s piggy bank to help fund it.

How things change. Today, you can’t toss your underwater stock options out the window without hitting 10 die-hard skeptics square on the noggin. Which is exactly where they should be hit to knock some sense back into them.

It’s time to give up the ghost, nay-sayers. The tech sector is back, and it’s back in a big way.

Damned Lies and the Truth

Who says? The government, that’s who. Yeah, I know, who can trust them, right? In the post-Watergate era, everyone’s suspect, and any White House gearing up for a reelection campaign must be capable of manipulating some government data. You don’t have to be a UFOs-in-Roswell, moon-landing-in-a-sound-studio, the Mob-killed-Kennedy conspiracy buff to believe that’s the case.

Then again, if we don’t trust the numbers, where are we? Back in the Stone Age, wondering how to make fire. Sure, statistics lie, but what else have we got?

Who Says?

So-called anecdotal evidence? It’s all over the proverbial map. Stop twenty people on the street and five will say buy, the next five sell. The other ten will tell you something that’s not fit for publication.

Earnings reports aren’t much help, either. Everyone’s careful not to raise expectations too much, and every CEO seems paralyzed by the fear of calling a recovery even one second before it comes into his or her office, puts its feet up on the desk and asks for its old job back.

No, reading the tea leaves is for gypsy fortune-tellers. Smart people trust the facts. The Bureau of Economic Affairs says investment in information technology gained 15 percent in the third quarter. Not too shabby. Actually, if you make price adjustments, the real number might be closer to 20 percent.

Twenty Twenty

That’s good news, right? But with a skeptic hiding under every rock, cowering in every cave, it’s not hard to find someone to poke holes in the balloon of optimism. Sure, the tech sector grew last quarter, they say, but how long will it last? There might be a ton of pent-up demand out there, but then again, that 15 percent quarter might have been all she wrote. What then? We’re going to need a bigger cave.

No one can predict the future, not even the tea-leaf readers. So why bother? Why not just be brave enough and honest enough to admit that things are getting better? If it doesn’t last — well, we’ll make do somehow.

There’s no shame in being an optimist. In fact, it was rather popular not too long ago.

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