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Gluecon: The Anti-Bubble

In the past week, the "bubble" talk has picked up once again -- specifically with a NYT's piece that points to sky-high valuations on a lack of revenue. My personal view is a bit more nuanced than bubble or no bubble...

Some funding areas (seed stage/angel) are clearly exhibiting bubblicious valuations. Not everywhere, but certainly, when a hot deal circulates, it circulates with what can only be characterized as some pretty ridiculous early stage terms. Other funding areas (Series A/B) are not experiencing bubbly valuations; in fact, it all seems pretty reasonable. (I'm not the first one to advance this argument; plenty of smarter people are saying it.)

And, then, of course, there are the outliers. I'm not talking about the post-Series B startups that are justifiably getting high valuations based on real revenue growth, I mean the things that just make you turn your head sideways. I guess my point is this: we're seeing bubbly behavior in *some* areas (consumer-facing social apps, recruiting, angel deals), but not in others (startups with real revenue being valued for growth) -- and all of that is happening in an overall economic environment that isn't good yet.

So, what happens when the economy finally begins growing like a post-recession economy should? Bubble. Bubbletastic. Bubblelicious. Super-bubble. But, imho, we're still a few years from that happening....and as anyone who lived through the dotcom boom/bust knows, this is nowhere NEAR the mania we saw back then.

Now, if you *really* wanna see what I mean about startups that aren't exhibiting bubble characteristics, then check out the Gluecon supporter page. SendGrid, Ping Identity, Cloudspokes (Appirio), Apigee, Box, Twilio, Gnip...it reads like a "who's who" of startups that have built REAL businesses and are on some pretty serious growth trajectories. Now take a look at the Demo Pod companies (I mean go and click on a couple of them). You know what you find there? Startups that are poised to go and build a real business -- nothing in the Demo Pods sounds like some app that'll make you go, "why would someone fund that?"

As I survey the startups involved with Gluecon, I can honestly say that I don't smell one hint of a bubble. Now, to be fair, I think that's reflective of the fact that Gluecon is focused on areas where real businesses live (enterprise/developer focused companies in the cloud, big data, mobile, and APIs).

Bottom-line: if you'd like to explore innovation without all of the bubblicious behavior that's sprouting up, then you need to come to Gluecon. We're the anti-bubble.

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