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:


Jobs Cut

Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:JAVA)


Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT)


Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC)






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.

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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.