Silicon Valley Isn't Safe

Tech investing is risky. Just ask any investor who survived the dot-com bust. Better yet, check out the real-money losses in my tech portfolio.

Depressing, eh? Well, get the Prozac; it gets worse. Tech firms have now eliminated more than 100,000 jobs since Aug. 27, according to blogger TechCrunch, which keeps a running tally at its site.

Layoffs at Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) and Motorola made headlines, as did thus-far-unfounded rumors of big cuts at Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) . Other notable but less newsworthy cutters:

Company

Jobs Cut

Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA  )

5,130

Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT  )

1,800

Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC  )

880

SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK  )

750

Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE  )

600

Data current as of Dec. 13, 2008.

And these are just the public firms. Baby Breakers such as BitTorrent and LinkedIn are also reducing payrolls. Others are shutting down. BusinessWeek reports that Silicon Valley liquidator Sherwood Partners is now handling 12 cases a month, up from just two in recent years. Call it a continuation of the eight-year bear market in venture capital that Harris & Harris CEO Charles Harris described to me in October.

The data raises a troubling question: Is it possible to invest in tech and not get burned? Sure, just not over the short-term. Too often, bear markets are equal-opportunity horrorshows. So when buying tech stocks, buy not just for 2009, but 2019. You're looking for businesses that are:

Silicon Valley isn't safe, but it's still a land of opportunity.

Get your clicks with related Foolishness:

Google and Harris & Harris are Rule Breakers recommendations. Symantec is an Inside Value pick. Try either of these market-beating services free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had stock and options positions in Google and a stock position in Harris & Harris at the time of publication. Find his portfolio holdings here and all of his Foolish writings here. Or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool.

The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy can't be fired. Ah, the beauty of tenure.


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