Saying the stock market's ride over the first six months of 2021 was wild would be an understatement. It was a fairly unprecedented phenomenon where retail investors seemingly wrested control of the market away from the monied interests and kept the conversation focused on driving stocks higher.

Yet the companies singled out for attention haven't always been the highest quality. The stocks may have been highly shorted and good candidates for a short squeeze, but that often makes them a one-and-done bet. They might go to the moon, but they're going to be heading back to earth just as fast, if not faster, than they rose.

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Good growth stocks are those that can ride the wave for years, even decades. They've often been the vehicle of choice for investors looking for the rocket to carry them over the long haul, not just for a joy ride.

If you want to own companies offering potential for real, tangible long-term returns on your investment, the following trio of growth tech stocks may be for you.

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Airbnb

Home-sharing leader Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) is one of those stocks with an extended runway in front of it. 

I first stumbled across Airbnb several years ago when searching for ideas on building a tiny home on wheels (THOW) and found a listing on the site. While the vacation rental website is upending the traditional hotel industry by stacking individual homeowners against the giants of the short-term-stay industry, really, any spot, including a THOW, can be called home for a while.

Airbnb has grown into a global force for affordable rentals, growing to 4 million hosts worldwide in over 100,000 cities at the end of the first quarter. A year after the start of the pandemic, revenue of $887 million was also 6% higher than it was in 2019, indicating there are plenty of expansion opportunities in the years to come.

According to the latest Census Bureau figures, there are more than 120.7 million households in the U.S. and well over 2 billion households in just the most developed cities and countries worldwide, meaning Airbnb will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. 

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Fastly

One month ago it seemed almost the entire internet crashed. Thousands of government, social media, and news sites, including The Motley Fool, went dark, some for just a few minutes, others an hour or more. The culprit? A coding error at content delivery network (CDN) provider Fastly (NYSE:FSLY) caused 85% of its customers to experience errors. 

Other major CDN providers include Akamai, Cloudera, and Amazon Web Services. Interestingly, Amazon itself was affected by Fastly's outage.

Yet Fastly's stock wasn't affected by the short circuit, perhaps because it brings into focus just how critical it and other CDN providers are to the smooth operation of the internet, and also because it was corrected so quickly. And as business continues moving its data to the cloud, Fastly, which has over 2,000 customers as of the end of the first quarter, will have a growing clientele, glitches notwithstanding.

And Fastly is growing, well, fast. Revenue was up 35% in the first quarter with revenue from existing customers soaring 139% year over year. It reports the amount enterprises are spending with it averaged $800,000. 

Certainly last month's outage also taught Fastly an important lesson and though 95% of its network was operational again within 49 minutes, it's using the incident to ensure it doesn't repeat.

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Okta

Fastly's outage dovetails nicely with the next stock, cybersecurity expert Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA), which offers cloud-based identity verification solutions by providing tools for controlling access to corporate networks.

Much like CDN is necessary for businesses delivering the content to end users, the nature of cloud-based data makes securing it even more important. Using artificial intelligence for systems that are based in the cloud, Okta is able to quickly offer security solutions in excruciatingly granular detail that grow increasingly adept at identifying threats to a network. But perhaps more important is that as its customers grow in size, Okta's technology can scale upwards as well.

And Okta's business is scaling up, too. With over 10,000 customers worldwide, revenue for the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 jumped 37% from last year while subscription revenue grew fast at 38%. That recurring revenue stream will eventually enable this cybersecurity stock to turn profitable. 

Yes, Okta is currently posting losses, and forecasts it will continue to do so for at least the coming year, but with an $80 billion total addressable market, it will be able to grow into profits while providing investors remarkable returns for the next decade or more.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.