Technology commentators are predicting the second coming of the dotcom crash, five years after the first one wrecked confidence in the internet business and sent countless paper millionaires on to the streets.
Recent mutterings started when News Corp paid $580m (about £313m) for MySpace, and reached a peak this week with Google's $1.6bn acquisition of YouTube. But the term "dotcom crash" is a bit old hat now; this time round it's known as Bubble 2.0, with sceptics unsure of the value and staying power of so-called Web 2.0 firms. But it's difficult to compare the stupidity that preceded the first dotcom crash with the aggressive behaviour of internet firms this time around.
One of the reasons why the first dotcom bubble popped was that many of the companies behind the unwarranted enthusiasm for e-everything assumed that people were eager to spend money on the internet, and that minor niggles such as web security wouldn't affect user confidence. But not enough 'normal' people were relying on the internet on a daily basis in 2000. And in the years that followed the daily security threats and arrival of hi-tech crime as a viable business ensured that few were prepared to reveal their credit card details to the wider web.
Six years later, however, things have changed: Google, a search-engine company in 2000, has become an advertising firm; eBay, an auction site for geeks back then, is a viable business allowing anyone with a net connection at home to set up shop; and traditional old media firms like News Corp are terrified that their readers and advertisers will abandon the printed page and are snapping up web firms left, right and centre. The web is a viable business, and so many of those predictions about Bubble 2.0 are completely unfounded.
Furthermore, much of the cash being spent on internet firms over the past year has come from firms that have made their fortunes from the web. Google, Yahoo et al know what makes the web go round, and they know that millions of impressions can turn into millions in ad revenue.
Billions of dollars for a company that makes no money does seem a bit excessive, but we can expect more of the same from the web's leading lights. Online brands such as YouTube are becoming as widely known as the likes of Coca Cola and McDonalds among the web community. So in that respect, it's a snip at $1.6bn!