When you assemble more than 400 executives and entrepreneurs to discuss how technology is changing the way we work, communicate, and consume entertainment -- as Fortune
did for its annual Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen last month -- you're sure to hear a lot of exuberance for companies such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify, the music service that just launched in the U.S. But is that exuberance verging on irrational, especially where valuations are concerned? The consensus seems to be: "It depends." Frank Quattrone, the veteran tech banker, demurs on the question of a broader bubble but says he frets about the premiums some private companies are commanding. Even Larry Summers, the usually blunt former U.S. Treasury Secretary, is equivocal on the matter. He notes that the value of tech companies relative to industrials is quite low. Yet the potential market opportunity for tech -- some 2 billion Internet users and 2 billion mobile phones worldwide -- is huge. "Who can look at history and be confident that things aren't a bubble?" he asks. But, he adds, "those who are confident that it is a bubble don't seem to me to have looked at some of the kinds of facts that I just cited." What side are you on? Check out our coverage of Brainstorm Tech before you make up your mind.
--Stephanie N. Mehta