NEW YORK (Real Money) -- Once you brand a market with the curse of the 2000 Nasdaq market top, you have to immediately see whether things are staying on course toward tech-stock apocalypse, or whether they will naturally right themselves.
On this front, there's good news for the bulls: In the last 48 hours, we've seen some attempts to halt the rendezvous with destiny that's now becoming common currency.
What are the signs that we don't have to end in oblivion? First, have you noticed that the initial public offering fountain has turned into a trickle?
We had been getting two, three, four deals a day routinely as the weeks progressed. And the type of deals seemed to be the same: cloud-based, software-as-a-service to some part of the enterprise. A few weeks ago we had so many software-as-a-service IPOs coming that we seemed to have one or two come public almost every single day, hence why I started saying these deals had become software-as-a-disservice to your portfolio, or SAAD, instead of software-as-a-service, or SAAS. There were way too many to keep track of.
In fact, there were a couple of sessions when the things were so chaotic from all of the IPOs that some couldn't even be declared effective on the morning they were supposed to go. Plus, consider the hoopla we saw: characters dressed as food -- GrubHub (GRUB) -- characters dressed as, well, characters -- King Digital (KING) -- and piles of food -- Zoe's Kitchen (ZOES). It all made you feel as if you were seeing a top right in front of your eyes. They always say there's no bell that signals the top. Not true: The opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange foretold all you needed to know.
In fact, it's gotten so negative out there that this week we saw postponements in not one, not two, but three of the biggest prospective IPOs: the $10 billion troika of AirBNB, DropBox and Box. I say "softly" because there are so many rules around IPOs that it's almost as if you can't really talk about them once a deal has been filed. Let's put it this way, though. The reports seem pretty darned thorough that those deals, all of which were putatively valued at $10 billion in the last round of financing, have been shelved.
I can't stress how important these postponements are. While the frenzy in the public markets has been well-documented, the fundraising in the private market has been pretty darned insane. These $10 billion valuations for two data-storage companies, and a website for renting your own house out, were predicated on an extremely robust red-hot IPO market.
The sizzle is now gone. With that, perhaps, this lunacy -- companies with little to no profit, but fast revenue growth, being valued at $10 billion in the last round of financing -- could, at last, be cooling. Never forget the process. The venture capitalists back new companies at repeatedly higher rounds of valuation. The VCs know that they can either flip these start-ups to public companies desperate for growth, or they can tap the insanely hot public markets.