Over the last few weeks, tech stocks, in general, took a real beating.
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta, and Google have lost more than $2.7 trillion in value this year due to our current stock market meltdown.
One would think that these companies would be in a panic and begin cutting back on R&D, spending, and any expansion plans.
During the last significant tech downturn, triggered by the housing crisis in 2008, I asked Intel’s CEO at the time, Paul Otellini, what Intel would do given the current economic reversal? He did not even hesitate a second and told me that during downturns, Intel doubles down on R&D, looks for more talent to fill future needs, and accelerates expansion plans.
He reasoned that tech, especially semiconductors, was never going away and that Intel and major tech companies needed to be ready when demand rose again. Looking at tech’s growth from the 2008 recession to today, Mr. Otellini was 100% correct.
As big tech faces another economic downturn, we see signs that big tech understands Mr. Otellini’s strategy. Indeed, Microsoft has doubled its employees’ bonus pool and is making expansion plans. Google has committed to hiring more engineers and is moving ahead with the Google Village expansion in downtown San Jose which can house another 25,000 engineers.
Although Apple has completed their spaceship campus in Cupertino, they have bought a large piece of land in North San Jose, and is also building a new $ 1B campus in Austin Texas .
Apple CEO Tim Cook has often stated that Apple should continue to invest for the future, even during a downturn. Since the last recession, Apple has doubled its staff and nearly tripled its sales.
As the economy slows and shows signs of a recession, investors panic since most invest for short-term returns. This is why big tech stocks have declined so much recently. However, those investors who have followed tech for a long time understand that big tech’s up and down swings are temporary. Demand for technology is not going away and they invest for the long term.
Indeed, technology leaders and savvy investors know that we are still in the middle of our digital transition from centuries of an analog world to one that will be all-digital in the future. Moving the analog world to digital twins (an exact digital replica) is in full swing, with decades still needed to move everyone and everything to an all-digital world.
For those who have a basic understanding of the concept of a Metaverse and potential virtual worlds, an even more significant digital transition in our future can be imagined. This is where we move from 2D digital twins towards 3D virtual experiences that mirror our 2D digital world that is evolving today.
A reporter recently asked me if big tech could weather another downturn. I pointed out that during the Great Recession from 2008 to 2010, big tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook acquired over 150 companies and thousands of new IPs from smaller tech companies that were forced to close due to the recession.
The result of this was that almost all of the big tech companies became larger, stronger, and more profitable due to their investments through a recession.
In my 40-year tech career, I have lived through three full-blown recessions and two milder ones and watched many tech companies get bigger and more powerful after each one.
Of course, they could still be vulnerable should a global war break out that impacts much more than a period of recession and supply chain woes. So that always has to be factored into big tech’s long-range planning. But, even then, tech executives, in general, have a deep understanding of the role technology will play in everyone’s lives well into the future.
That is why they are not panicking and instead are doubling down on R&D, hiring the cream of the crop talent, and even expanding their real estate and office spaces. They know with great certainty that demand for technology as part of a complete shift towards a digital world will power much of the economy throughout this century and beyond.