I wanted to use the opportunity of my Digerati Dinner on February 22, 2001 to ask the guests, a group that included many of the movers and shakers of the digital revolution, to comment on the state of the Digital revolution. At every place setting as a brief questionnaire, leading off, in bold type, with the following:
As I should have suspected, people were too excited by being in each other's presence to respond. But just as I was about to give up hope, Israeii investor Joseph "Yossi" approached.
"Mr. Brockman," he said in a thick accent. "Being an Israeli, I must respond to your question not with an answer but with two more questions, which I would like to adress to your faithful readers. First: Where are we right now on the enclosed chart (see "The Economics of Dreams" below). Second: How long will it be until the stock market begins to go up?"
I had met Yossi during the "Cool People in the Hot Desert" trip sponsored by our mutual friend, the Bavarian media mogul Hubert Burda. At the time of my visit, a year had passed since he had sold the extremely popular Internet communication program ICQ to AOL for a reported $400 million. When the deal had been announced, the Israeli press and technology sector were incredulous that the 19-month old company run by Yossi with its founders, three college-aged men including his son, with a tiny revenue stream and no profits, could be worth $400 million. The news created a stampede, the result of which is that greater Tel Aviv now rivals Munich in technology startups after Silicon Valley and New York City. When I landed in Tel Aviv, a year had passed since the deal and the press perception was different: "What kind of schmuck sells out early for $400 million when the company could easily be sold today for $4 billion!!