Choose Your Bubbles Wisely.

December 20, 2019

Choose Your Bubbles Wisely.

May 29, 2023

It was 1636, the Dutch Golden Age, and the recently introduced and fashionable tulip was all the rage. Prices for bulbs were bubbly...until they weren’t and “Tulip Mania” became the first recorded speculative bubble.

I’ve seen a few bubbles come and go. 30 years ago, it was the Japanese bubble when the value of the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo was greater than the value of the entire state of California real estate industry. Then, California took the hit with the dot-com bust nearly 20 years ago. And, of course, the global real estate crash of just over 10 years ago.

The bubble of the moment is real estate companies trying to pretend they’re tech companies. When it filed to go public, WeWork’s IPO paperwork used the word “technology” 110 times in its prospectus. Given that 7 of the 10 most valuable companies in the world are in tech, you understand why young entrepreneurs are donning this costume. But, in the end, wisdom prevails.

As I learned at Airbnb (which is definitely a tech company), if you don’t have some of the following qualities, you’re not a tech company: ability to scale globally overnight, high percentage of employees working on the software product, and low variable costs and capital investments.

OYO, Sonder, Selina, Compass, The Wing, Quarters, and many others, you may have a phenomenal business plan that can create great long-term growth, but stop comparing yourself to Amazon or Facebook! What it takes to be successful in real estate is wholly different that what it takes to be a tech darling.

The Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett deserves the last word on this, "Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."

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