What happened

Teladoc (TDOC 2.50%). Docusign (DOCU 0.60%). Impinj (PI 0.08%).

What do these three stocks have in common? At the broadest level, all three are "tech stocks." Teladoc is pioneering the field of telemedicine. Docusign is the leading name in e-signatures for documents. Impinj is working to make the long-promised "Internet of Things" a reality.

But is this the reason all three stocks lost 10% or more in early trading Thursday? Is it why Teladoc closed the day down 13.5%, Docusign down 8.4%, and Impinj 13.9%? Do investors just all of a sudden hate tech stocks?

Three red arrows crashing down and crashing down into the ground

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Short answer: No. I honestly don't think that's the problem, here -- although it's certainly understandable if you think that's what's happening. After all, beyond just the three stocks named, the tech-heavy Nasdaq did close 9.4% lower today.

Rather, I think what we saw happen today was a combination of two things: First, investors were frightened by a speech by the president last night, which gave a clear impression that things are much worse than we've been hoping was the case so far. President Trump suggested that this is more than just a case of a few thousand people getting sick in far-off lands -- that it's a systemic crisis that is hitting home in America and will require $50 billion in new loans to small businesses (for example) just to start getting a handle on things (and maybe even more than that).

And second, I think investors may be dialing down the level of risk they want to take and are more reluctant to invest in fast-growing companies that aren't actually earning any profits.

Now what

It's sad to say, but this appears to be the case with Teladoc, Docusign, and Impinj.

They may be fast growers, with sales growing 32%, 38%, and 25% year over year, respectively -- much faster growth rates than you see at most companies. But even so, each of these stocks is still unprofitable on at least a GAAP basis, and if America is slouching toward a recession right now, unprofitable companies may not be the best place to have your money invested.

At least, this seems to be the thinking on Wall Street today. Tomorrow is still anybody's guess.