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The Information Age: Tech & the S&P 500

The below chart from this morning’s Wall Street Journal is perhaps a good example of our ongoing transformation from an industrial economy to an information economy. Just four stocks — namely Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook — have accounted for 19% of the S&P 500’s total return this year. All of them are “tech.”

And this is not new to 2019. Similar contributions were made by tech last year and in 2018. I have been used to hearing about the 4 horsemen of tech. But apparently there’s even now something called the “FAANG stocks,” which refers to Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (Alphabet).

This shift is, of course, one of the reasons why every city is trying to establish a strong tech ecosystem. I saw that first-hand in Lisbon this past week. And frankly I think the city has many of the same characteristics that made Berlin a great place for tech. It’s affordable. It’s filled with young and smart people. And it’s a fun place to be.

There’s a reason that Lisbon now hosts the annual Web Summit, which is generally considered to be the largest tech conference in the world. (The North American offshoot, called Collision, relocated to Toronto this year in order to be in a more global city.)

Portugal only has a population of about 10 million people. There are some 3 million people in the metropolitan area of Lisbon. But that doesn’t really matter because most startups today are immediately targeting a global customer base.

I learned more about Portugal and Spain’s colonial pasts on this trip and I found it fascinating. In many ways, it was the start of globalization. But that was the Age of Discovery. Those centuries are over and done with. Our century is the Information Age. The above chart is part of that story.

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