10 March 2010

Creative Destruction At Work In Colorado

The phase "Creative Destruction" coined by Schumpeter, a big picture economist, refers to the fact that those who lead new economic revolutions are rarely the ones who were the leaders before those revolutions.

As a case in point, the tech bust of 2001 utterly overhauled the ranks of Colorado's big businesses. About two-thirds of their combined lost value came from reduced shares prices for Qwest and Level 3. Many others have ceased to exist.

In 2000, 32 public companies in Colorado traded at a market value of $1 billion or more. Measured at their peak values, those Colorado companies, some of which traded on exchanges other than the Nasdaq, had a combined value of $369.3 billion. As of Friday, there were 30 Colorado public companies with a market value of $1 billion or more. But as a group, they had a combined market value of $161.4 billion. . . . In 2000, Qwest Communications, laying fiber-optic strands across the country, crested above a remarkable $100 billion in market value. Qwest is now worth about $8.2 billion. . . . [Broadband company] Level 3 Communications, once valued at nearly $50 billion, is worth $2.6 billion. . . .

Half of the 32 companies in 2000 on the $1 billion-plus list . . . aren't around anymore as independent companies. Most went bankrupt, got delisted or fell to valuations so low that stronger players took them out. . . .

[I]n 2000 thought Rhythms Netconnections was worth $4 billion. By the summer of 2001, the DSL provider was in a bankruptcy liquidation. [Also gone are] New Era of Networks, ICG Communications, McData, Tanning Technologies and FirstWorld Communications.

"Liberty Media, a media and entertainment holding company with interests in QVC, Ticketmaster and DirecTV" is one of the few companies from that list to retain a high value now.

The world of high tech start up companies that thrived before the tech bust still hasn't recovered a decade later. "The Nasdaq composite index peaked at 5,048.62 on March 10, 2000. . . . On Tuesday, the index closed at 2,340.68, still 53.6 percent below that high mark."

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