When the 21st century began Apple was just a few years removed from near bankruptcy, Microsoft, after a few wasted years fighting off a Department of Justice eager to neuter it, was on the verge of a fifteen-year span during which its share price almost literally stood still, Google was a small private company reliant on word of mouth about its nascent search engine, Amazon was a peddler of books, CDs, VHS videos and DVDs (its shares were soon to plummet into the $1 range), and Facebook didn’t even exist. Founder Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.
Today the companies listed are the five most valuable in the world. How quickly things change.
All of this rates mention in consideration of Farhad Manjoo’s multi-week New York Times’ series on what he describes as the “Frightful Five.” Manjoo is a senior technological reporter for the Times, and as one could probably guess, the resounding success of technology companies that not too long ago were sagging, fighting to stay alive, or non-existent, has Manjoo down. He even finds himself wondering why he’s “feeling so bad about tech" amid soaring prospects for the sector’s leading lights. As great of a newspaper as the Times is, and as great as even some of the business reporting at the Times is, the newspaper’s analysis of the meaning of what it reports on leaves much to be desired at times. How predictable of the Times to search for the alleged downside of achievement.