JPMorgan Chase chases tech investment

Headquarters of the U.S. investment bank JPMorgan Chase in New York.

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Kai Ryssdal: The tech world is looking more and more bubbly, and we're not talking the happy champagne kind of bubbles on this Valentine's Day. Kleiner Perkins, a big name venture capital firm, took a stake in Facebook today that values that company at $52 billion. There are reports that Twitter could fetch $10 billion. Zynga, the maker of FarmVille on Facebook, maybe $7 billion. There's talk JPMorgan Chase may start a fund to get its clients a piece of all that tech action.

But at this rate, is there going to be any action left to had? Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore reports.


Heidi Moore: Many people fear that there's a tech bubble and it's going to pop. But banks like JPMorgan are reportedly considering jumping right in with plans to help clients invest in tech companies.

Proceed with caution, says Ethan Kurzweil, an investor with Bessemer Venture Partners.

Ethan Kurzweil: Certainly in terms of permeating this sort of public hype, we're at a peak.

But it's not like the last tech bubble. The new twist here is that the hot companies aren't even on a stock exchange.

Kurzweil: There's just an inherent level of risk in making that kind of investment that you just don't know what's going on in the same way you would at a public company.

Paul Kedrosky, who also invests in tech companies, says that the high prices grab headlines, as they have with Facebook. But unlike last time, a lot of tech companies, like Groupon, have profits to support the investor enthusiasm.

Paul Kedrosky: It's a strange sort of bubble where credible companies are actually getting high valuations. That's not such a terrible thing.

He says many investors are willing to pay up to get behind the velvet rope and get an inside track on a hot company that will one day go public. For those that missed out on tech riches over the past three years, paying up big dollars for a Facebook stake now can be worth the cost. It's an image thing.

Kedrosky: This isn't about bargain-hunting. This is really no different than buying a Super Bowl ad.

Of course, it may be a different story when the hype dies down and investors don't make as much money as they expect. Then we might hear some complaints to replace the cheering.

I'm Heidi Moore in New York for Marketplace.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.

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