NYTimes writes about the man who for a period wa synonymous with the telecom boom. I remember reading George Gilder’s lengthy essays in Forbes ASAP in the late 1990s and being fascinated by the world he was projecting. Suddenly everything changed. But there are now indications that at least part of the broadband future that Gilder predicted is now coming. The article is a fascinating story about the rise and fall and possible comeback of Gilder.
In early 2000, Mr. Gilder presided over a small but lucrative empire that consisted of his newsletter, the Gilder Technology Report, and its various spinoffs – with names like Digital Power Reporter, Dynamic Silicon and the Supply Side Investor – half a dozen annual conferences and a staff of 55.
At the time, Mr. Gilder’s net worth, around $7 million, was modest by dot-com standards, but Merrill Lynch and Hambrecht & Co. were vying to take his company, Gilder Publishing, public, valuing it at $150 million to $200 million. His newsletters had 110,000 subscribers.
Then, as quickly as the riches and the promise of more riches came, they vanished. People canceled their subscriptions by the tens of thousands; only the original newsletter survives today, with just 8,500 subscribers. Since the tech bubble burst, all but five staff members have been laid off. A former business partner holds a lien on Mr. Gilder’s house. And in a cruel twist of fate, Mr. Gilder, an outspoken critic of the nation’s tax structure, finds himself at the mercy of the Internal Revenue Service, as he awaits the agency’s final decision on the terms of his tax bill.
Now, slowly but surely, portions of the telecom industry are recovering. Shares of the companies Mr. Gilder recommends in The Gilder Technology Report – a more diverse mix than it used to be – have outperformed the Nasdaq by a healthy margin for the past year, and his adherents are cheering up. And Mr. Gilder is gradually regaining the credibility that nearly vaporized before his eyes three years ago.