More than 300,000 techies lost their jobs in the last couple of months. Most of them are sadly out of luck until the big boys start hiring again. But a small part of that vast geek horde will make a big difference. It only takes a dash of startup spirit to make serendipity happen.

Wait, what?
Most of us will remember 2008 and 2009 as the great crash (glass half-empty) or the great opportunity (glass half-full). Some of the former Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) employees will look back fondly at the early days of their own businesses. You see, I think these layoffs are the starting gun for the next massive tech boom. It'll just take a couple of years to see exactly what we're getting out of this primordial soup.

Assuming that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, and other high-tech hotbeds, these massive cuts have inadvertently created perhaps the most talented pool of highly educated workers and thinkers we've ever seen. I mean, just have a quick glance at these figures and the sterling experience behind them:

Company

Job Cuts

% of Payroll Lost

Motley Fool CAPS Rating

Broadcom (NASDAQ:BRCM)

200

3%

***

Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN)

3,400

12%

****

IBM

2,850

1%

****

Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO)

3,000

4%

****

These layoffs are a perfect storm of epic proportions.

  • These are respectable companies that could always afford to be picky. No need to hire anybody but the best and brightest.
  • Some of those star performers must have felt stifled by bureaucracy, and by having other people telling them what to do and how to do it.
  • They're taking the experience of their old jobs back out on the street.
  • With so many layoffs happening all at once, the victims are bound to congregate and cross-pollinate.

That's how you create a breeding ground for groundbreaking new ideas -- technological breakthroughs in some cases, new business models in others, and the lucky few that get a little bit of both. Working together with other super-talented geniuses, with nobody's goals and dreams to fulfill but their own, these people will make things happen.

I'm envisioning the Skunk Works on steroids, or Xerox (NYSE:XRX) PARC with a bigger recruiting pool. General Electric (NYSE:GE) started in the midst of a six-year recession, with many of these advantages. Jimmy Wales started the hugely successful Wikipedia when the dot-com bubble popped, right after failing with a search-engine startup. There are a lot of precedents for this type of innovation incubation. But arguably, none of them had the potency of the current mix.

Cisco and IBM needed to shed some weight to stay afloat in these troubled waters. That's fine. The synergies that will spark a conflagration of fresh business simply weren't there inside those separate silos anyway. "If you love somebody, set them free," in the words of pop philosopher Sting. If they don't come back, maybe they'll find a soulmate somewhere else, and go on to a much happier future. That's what I see starting today.

What to do now
In a decade or two, we'll see which phoenix-birds rose out of the ashes of Silicon Valley's burned bridges. Our Motley Fool Rule Breakers team will undoubtedly pick up a few of these winners before they become huge. To see the kinds of massive growth stocks I'm talking about, grab a free 30-day trial pass and check out the market-beating scorecard for yourself.

Then settle in and wait for the new seedlings strewn over the past couple of months to germinate. I'm expecting something amazing. I only wish I knew what it's going to be.

Further Foolishness:

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.